Plasma cloud from major X-class solar flare reached Earth


The CME from strongest solar flare in four years disrupted radio communications in southern China, according to the China Meteorological Administration.

The US space administration NASA confirmed that Monday’s solar flare was the largest in four years, and the event sparked predictions of heightened activity on the northern hemisphere of the sun. “X-class flares are the most powerful of all solar events that can trigger radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms,” disrupting telecommunications and electric grids, NASA said.

A solar eruptive prominence as seen in extreme UV light

Solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M or X, with each class having a peak 10 times greater than the preceding one. NASA also said the flare caused “sudden ionospheric disturbances” in the atmosphere above China and the CMA warned there was a high probability that large solar flares would appear over the next three days. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory saw a large coronal mass ejection associated with the flash that is blasting toward Earth at about 560 miles per second (900 kilometers per second). Monday’s flare erupted in the sun’s southern hemisphere, which has so far shown less flare activity than the northern hemisphere. It followed several smaller M-class and C-class flares in recent days. A magnetic storm caused by a solar eruption in 1973 plunged six million people into darkness in Canada’s eastern-central Quebec province ().

Latest GOES Solar X-ray Image

At around 10:50 a.m. Korea time CME disrupted some radio communications in Korea. According to the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, a powerful solar flare from "Sunspot 1158" interfered with radio waves in shortwave receivers. () The institute predicts a massive burst of solar wind and radiation to hit the Earth's magnetic field some time between Wednesday and Thursday which could cause further damage to electrical systems and black out additional radio communications there (Solar Flare Suspends Parts of Radio Communications in Korea).

National Communications System
NCC Watch

PHONE: (703) 235-5080 FAX: (703) 235-5078 Email: ncs@hq.dhs.gov
Solar Magnetic Storm RFI #: 029 RFI Date: 2/15/2011 RFI Time: 15:00
As the result of a Solar Flare and Coronal Mass Ejection(CME) two plasma clouds are heading toward the Earth. These plasma clouds have the potential to cause some level of geomagnetic storming during the next 12 to 60 hours. The National Coordinating Center(NCC) is requesting information on any issues/unmet needs to impacts to the induced currents of electrical networks, communications infrastructure, or service due to the reported solar flare during the next
12-72 hours.
Earth-orbiting satellites have detected the strongest solar flare in more than four years. At 0156 UT on Feb. 15th, giant sunspot 1158 unleashed an X2-class eruption. X-flares are the strongest type of x-ray flares, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. The explosion that produced the flare also sent a solar tsunami rippling through the sun’s atmosphere and, more importantly, hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. This raises the possibility of geomagnetic storms in the days ahead.
Solar Flare and Coronal Mass Ejection(CME)
12-72 hours
The NCC Watch will continue to monitor the situation for impact to communications infrastructure and service. The NCC Watch will follow up on Friday, 18 February 2011 by 2000 EST, with an NCC Watch Advisory summarizing all reported feedbacks.

Featured image: NASA / SDO / AIA

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