Strongest Solar Flare of 2012 Follows Worst Radiation Storm Since 2003

Within a week of each other, the sun has thrown off two rounds of massive solar flares. The second, recorded on Jan. 27, was the strongest flare recorded this year and emanated from the same area as the last flare, which caused the worst solar radiation storm in eight years.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and the Solar Heliospheric Observatory were among several spacecraft that recorded the strongest flare to erupt from the sun's surface thus far this year. The flare exploded into space on the afternoon of Jan. 27 (1:37 p.m. EST), according to Space.com, and scientists labeled it an X-class eruption, the worst kind of solar flare.

Luckily, the location of the eruption, sunspot 1402, was facing away from the Earth. Scientists believe there will still be heightened levels of radiation from the coronal mass ejection (CME, the charged particles sent into space by the solar flare) but do not believe they pose a threat.

"The radiation storm will almost certainly be weaker," Doug Biesecker, a physicist at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, told SPACE.com. "The coronal mass ejection seems to be headed well away from Earth, which is good because this one seems like a bigger beast than the last one, but that's still preliminary."

Scientists designated the flare an X1.7. By comparison, last week's eruption was ranked as an M9 flare, which is still considered a mid-range flare (but close to the borderline with the more powerful X-class).

The last massive solar flare also erupted from sunspot 1402, a region of the sun that has shown increasing activity of late. Erupting on Jan. 22, that particular flare sent electromagnetic particles streaming toward Earth, bombarding the planet with waves of charged particles beginning on Jan. 24. According to the Space Weather Center (per Space.com), the resulting storm was the worst radiation storm since 2003. Scientists still considered the radiation storm "moderate."

The solar flare that set off the solar storm in 2003 was ranked an X45 by NASA. The most powerful ever recorded, as can be seen listed on Space.com, was the 2006 X-class flare that registered an X9 on the space weather scale.

The sun's activity and other space weather conditions are monitored by NASA to determine any potential hazards to astronauts. This once included the shuttle astronauts but since the shutdown of the U. S. manned spaceflight program in 2011, reports are conducted solely for those aboard the International Space Station. A NASA spokesman, Kelly Humphries, noted that the six space denizens currently in orbit were not in any imminent danger.

Solar flares and storms are also monitored due to their potential for disrupting the operations of satellites in space, not to mention power grids and communications infrastructure on Earth.

Scientists see the increased activity thus far in 2012 as a ramp-up to the an even more active period in 2013. The sun's activity ebbs and flows in an 11-year cycle, which is approaching solar maximum.

(photo credit: NASA/SDO)

Comments

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
These massive solar flares is strong enough can damage electronics. Check out techprotectbags.com for products and information about protecting valuable electronic devices.

Submitted by MarkGoldes (not verified) on
See the Aesop Institute website to understand the potential linkage and what might be done to prevent the worst from happening.

Submitted by Paul Felix Schott (not verified) on
Read well and study on your own after you have read this. This is not a game or joke our Sun gives off a Solar Wind all day year round if you live in the State of Alaska you see it in the sky above what a sight it is going through our Earth’s Magnet Polls of the North and the South, North Poll. Its Called the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis. The day will come when you will be able to see it all over Earth as in the year 1859 Solar Flare. Two Astronomer’s Hodgson and Carrington told the World that the Solar Flare made a Geomagnetic Storm reach Earth in hours not days. Back then it gave new meaning to Reach For The Skies from Telegraph Operators. For hours sparks flew from the key board. Even after the Batteries were disconnected. Our Sun’s UV Rays will get stronger as each passing day go’s by, read and i will tell you why. The Great big forest have be striped from most of the Earth for Greed of Money by the Wicked. The trees our are Main Source of Oxygen on this Plant. The Forest Trees scrubs the Pollution out of the air and makes Oxygen from the rain and dirt that it grows in. The Forest Trees do more then just make Oxygen they stop Soil Erosion, just Look at the 1930 Dust Bowl. Greed by our Government taxes led farmers to clear cut all their Forest and farm all the land they were being Tax on. They had to farm it to pay for the Taxes. Why leave the Trees when food crop makes Money. This Did not Help the Depression that effected most all Worldwide. The Pollution and CO2 Carbon Dioxide go into the Tree Bark as a shield from most bugs so they do not eat the tree. Less Forest less Oxygen this is why the moon. That has no Oxygen is very cold on the side with out Sun Light, and hot as ever on the side with Sun Light. Way too cold and too hot to live there. With no blank of Oxygen to lessen or reduce the Sun’s UV Rays and Solar Wind they are deadly there on our Moon. Every Mt. Climber and Aircraft Pilot knows the higher you go the thinner the Oxygen and colder it gets. Just spend a night on a Mt. top above 13,000 feet with no Sun Light and you will see or should i say feel the cold stinging any of your exposed skin. If you are new to Mt. Climbing stay below 10,000Ft. The Astronauts and the Cosmonauts and Fighter Pilots that i have been with for years know this very well, and the Radiation Hazards to humans at High Altitudes. Soon the Sun’s Solar Wind and UV rays will be way to strong for most to go out in the Sun Light for even a short time. The Geomagnetic Storm to come and the Bad Weather Storms well you have not seen nothing yet and the Sea Level is Rising the Oceans. And there shall be famines, and pestilences, and Earthquakes, in divers places such as was not from the beginning of the Creation. The last 30 years On Earth we have broke all high temp records and the temp it is still going up. All the Worlds Ice Glacier are melting at an Accelerating Rate. The Glaciers and Polar Ice Caps store more water than all the Fresh Water Lakes on Earth. The Bad Weather Storms now are Babies compared to what is to come. They will get even bigger and worse less Oxygen the more UV Rays to the Earth and more Water molecules will evaporate and go up into the Earth’s Atmosphere. Less Oxygen the colder with out sun light and hotter with it. The Sky full of more water vapor molecules, more snow in the winter and more Flash Floods in the Summer. The Most Powerful Solar Flare Explosions ever recorded on the surface of the SUN. Are only getting more powerful as Astronomers and Scientist have recorded it down in history. If every living person on Earth were to Plant A Tree Today we might have a chance. The Earth’s Atmosphere Blanket surrounding it protects life on Earth as Our Lord and GOD will all that seek Him. Then it is written when the tree is full it is harvest time. All the Earth will someday burn away. This is all Foretold in the Bible Read it and may our Lord GOD and Savior Jesus Christ Bless all that do so. The Lord’s Little Helper Paul Felix Schott solardowork@yahoo.com KI4-AEX P.S. 2 Peter 3:10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the Earth and its works will be burned up. Also read Luke 21:7-11 and 25

Submitted by Dan Annweiler (not verified) on
While I am a Christian also who has placed my salvation in the hands of Jesus, it's comments like the one I am replying that drive people away from Christianity. As men ourselves, it is not our place to judge others or strike fear into people. Your comment, while somewhat truthful--Jesus told his apostles that as the end times draw near, the Earth would experience earthquakes and other natural disasters of increasing intensity and frequency. He also told us that we would hear of wars and rumors of wars--which is certainly the case today, just last week, there were rumblings out of the Middle East again. Israel may be considering a preemptive strike against Iran if Iran does not stand down on it's nuclear development program. So, instead of trying to strike fear into people, Christians should be showing others how Bible prophecy is relating to current events and how all the pieces are falling together.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on
yes, this will cause destruction and famine. Saftey generators can only work for so long and it is projected that some places may be out of power for up to ten years. I agree with everyone's comments about the science and economics of this event but as a society it is time to leave God out of this. Saying God has anything to do with this is no different than having a polythiestic religion with gods for rain, and war, etc. God is there to answer questions which have no answer for; Science is there for the factual answers, and we have that. Put your belief in your God but not your scientific fact.