New sunspot 1163 doesn't look very impressive, but the M3-class flare it unleashed yesterday was absolutely spectacular. Click Eastern Blast to download a movie recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory.
When the eruption occurred, sunspot 1163 was behind the sun's eastern limb. Nevertheless, enough ultraviolet radiation spilled over to create waves of ionization in Earth's upper atmosphere. Low-frequency radio signals, which bounce off of ionized air, were strongly disturbed, as shown in this plot from a VLF monitoring station in Slovakia. Otherwise, Earth was little affected. Plasma clouds produced by the blast did not come our way.
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