Small Sunspot, Big Flare - Things are Hotting Up
7th Feb 2000
One of the brightest solar flares of the current cycle erupted this
weekend from a relatively small sunspot group.
This weekend a major solar flare erupted on the northeast limb of the
Sun at 1928 UT on February 5. According to data from the NOAA Space
Environment Center, it was one of the largest and brightest optical
flares of the current solar cycle.
The eruption was bright across the electromagnetic spectrum. It registered
the maximum rating of "B" (for brilliant) on the 3-level of optical
intensity for solar flares. At X-ray wavelengths the Earth-orbiting
GOES 8 satellite also detected a bright surge that put the flare in
the most powerful X-class Large flares like this one can emit up to
1032 ergs of energy. This energy is ten million times greater than the
energy released from a volcanic explosion. On the other hand, it is
less than one-tenth of the total energy emitted by the Sun every second.
The intense radiation from a solar flare travels to Earth in eight minutes.
As a result:
- The Earth's upper atmosphere becomes more ionized and expands.
- Long distance radio signals can be disrupted by the resulting change
in the Earth's ionosphere.
- A satellite's orbit around the Earth can be disturbed by the enhanced
drag on the satellite from the expanded atmosphere.
- Satellites' electronic components can be damaged.
Solar flares become more common during sunspot maximum. The current
sunspot cycle is slated to peak in mid-2000, and remain high for at
least a year.
Mysteries, UFOs, etc.
Informer News ...