June 8, 2011

Solar Flare Caught By NASA Observatory

A NASA space observatory witnessed an unusual solar flare on Tuesday that could cause interference to satellites, communications and power on Earth in the next few days, officials warn.

Not since 2006 has an eruption of this magnitude been seen reports the National Weather Service.

A statement by NASA's solar dynamics observatory says, "The sun unleashed an M-2 (medium-sized) solar flare with a substantial coronal mass ejection (CME) on June 7 that is visually spectacular."

"The large cloud of particles mushroomed up and fell back down looking as if it covered an area of almost half the solar service," and peaked at about 1:41 a.m. Eastern time in the United States.

Although the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center describes it as a "dramatic eruption," it is only "expected to cause G1 (minor) to G2 (moderate) levels of Geomagnetic Storm activity on June 8 at about 6:00 p.m. GMT. The eruption was not pointed directly at Earth and  will have a "fairly small" effect on us, NASA says.

"The Solar Radiation Storm includes a significant contribution of high energy (>100 MeV) protons, the first such occurrence of an event of that type since December 2006."

However, the eruption was not pointed directly at Earth, and will affect us in a "fairly small" way, says NASA.

AFP reports a spokesperson saying it is possible that the geomagnetic storm could contribute to some disruption of Earth's power grids, satellites that operate global positioning systems and other devices, as well as cause possible rerouting of flights over the Polar Regions.


Image Caption: Coronal Mass Ejection as viewed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 7, 2011. Credit: NASA/SDO


On the Net: