Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Sun Blasts Flare at Earth: New Year's Eve Storm?


On Monday (Dec. 28), a sunspot cluster erupted, blasting an M-class flare directly at Earth. The extreme-ultraviolet radiation immediately washed over our upper atmosphere, initiating an ionization event that caused a radio blackout over South America, Africa and the south Atlantic Ocean. The blackout may have been detected by mariners and ham radio operators in the 20MHz frequency range, according to SpaceWeather.com.
Although the flare certainly wasn’t of the strength of a major X-class flare (the most powerful class of flare), this event did trigger a significant coronal mass ejection (CME) that is currently racing in the direction of Earth. Space weather forecasters predict a direct hit with Earth’s magnetic field on or around New Year’s Eve, potentially sparking some natural fireworks in the upper atmosphere just in time for 2016.