Strong Solar Flare© Unsplash

A Strong Solar Flare Is Going To Hit Earth This Weekend

Salva Mubarak
Senior Features Writer

In news that would make you go ‘Why isn’t everyone talking about this?’, a massive solar flare has erupted on the Earth-facing side of the sun and fast winds from the flare can be expected to hit the planet between Friday night and Saturday morning.

In case you didn’t know, activity in the sun is ramping up as part of the star’s 11-year cycle of high and low activities. NASA astronomers have observed nine sunspot groups that have appeared recently on the Earth-facing side of the sun.

While these spots seemed stable, one of them unexpectedly burst, causing the high-intensity solar flare.

But what on Earth are sunspots?

To put it simply, sunspots are black-coloured regions on the surface of the sun that develop over locations that have extremely powerful magnetic fields. The magnetic flux is so strong in these locations that it prevents heat from touching the surface, making these spots much colder than the rest of the sun, and darker too. These spots are known to emit powerful bursts of radiation.

But what does this have to do with me?

Solar flares, in general, are powerful bursts of energy from the sun. These flares and eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, and navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.

But what makes this solar flare different from any other solar flare?

This particular solar flare has been named X1.2 Flare. In the astronomical world, X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number next to it gives information about its strength. The solar flare has erupted from an Earth-facing sunspot named AR3256.

Solar flare X1.2©NASA

The flare has the potential to cause strong shortwave radio blackouts in large regions across Australia, Southeast Asia, and New Zealand.

It can break down mobile networks, and internet services, cause power grid failures, and impact sensitive ground-based electronics like pacemakers and ventilators.

Experts have assured that while the solar flare is one of the strongest ones in intensity, it is still on the lower scale of X-class flares.