And you thought tornadoes and hurricanes were bad? Around 7:00 pm on Tuesday March 6, 2012 a powerful solar storm on the surface of our sun, unleashed the largest solar flare recorded this year. Much like earthquakes, hurricanes and your Facebook comments, solar flares are measured on a rating scale. Based on the scale for solar flares which runs from A, B, C, M and X. An A solar flare is the weakest and of course, an X would be the strongest. Tuesday’s flare rated an X 5.4 class flare.
Both NASA’s Stereo-B spacecraft and its Solar Dynamics Observatory observed the coronal mass ejections which erupted from the solar flares. One of the two also captured the images seen in this post. Neat huh?
Much like the storm that created the Fantastic Four, this X-class (not to be confused with the X-Men) flare could disrupt satellite communications, power grids and produce exciting auroras at both poles. Solar flares occur all the time however they are not always ejected towards the Earth. Presently the sun is in a very active period which happens every eleven years or so.
The flares could cause a geomagnetic storm on Earth. Wikipedia states, in language I am too ignorant to fully understand; A geomagnetic storm is a temporary disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere caused by a disturbance in the interplanetary medium. A geomagnetic storm is a major component of space weather and provides the input for many other components of space weather. A geomagnetic storm is caused by a solar wind shock wave and/or cloud of magnetic field which interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field.
The two ejections on Tuesday followed another powerful solar flare that took place on Sunday. It is possible that you won’t have power to keep your refrigerator going and it might be possible that you won’t be able to call your friends on your cell phones but with a little ingenuity we should be able to get passed this. If not, “Flame On!“