A solar flare has led to a deterioration of communication on Earth

Alicia Guzman
September 8, 2017

"The X9.3 flare was the largest flare so far in the current solar cycle, the approximately 11-year-cycle during which the Sun's activity waxes and wanes".

The two flares occurred Wednesday morning at 5:10am and 8:02am EDT.

NASA has recorded the biggest solar flare for 12 years as the sun unleashed an X-Class flare on September 6. The result is superheating of the sun's surface coupled with a blast of energy that triggers radiation storms in the Earth's atmosphere.

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According to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), these so-called category X eruptions disrupted high-frequency radio communications for one hour on the earth's side facing the sun and low-frequency communications used in navigation. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which continuously monitors the sun, captured images of both the solar flares.

Extreme solar flares are also unsafe, especially for satellites in space close to the Earth, as the plasma jolts can damage then, and even mess with the electrical grid here. During the Sun's rotation, the magnetic loops become wrapped becoming tighter as the rotation progresses. The flash of light and high energy particles released is the solar flare, while the solar matter from the magnetic contortions are CMEs.

The region has shot out five relatively large flares since September 4, according to NASA. An X20 flare was recorded in April of 2001. It is not yet clear if that CME will hit Earth directly. The X9.3 flare was the strongest observed since an X9.0 in December 2006 and the eighth most powerful since at least June 1996, according to Smithsonian.com and SpaceWeatherLive.com.

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M-class flares may cause brief radio blackouts in polar regions and minor concern for any orbiting astronauts.

Solar flares occur in sun spots, the cooler regions of the sun. The flare was so strong it was able to cause shortwave radio blackouts over Africa, Europe, and across the Atlantic Ocean. They should be arriving within a few days.

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