Researchers at Spaceweather.com monitoring massive sun spots developing on the sun issued a Solar Flare Alert Thursday night based on data accumulated from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
CHANCE OF FLARES: New sunspot AR1678 has developed a delta-class magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of M-flares and a 15% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours.
On Wednesday NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory reported they had identified the sun spot now believed to have the potential to produce strong coronal mass ejections and solar flares:
According to a news release, scientists from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory watched the sunspot rapidly grow on February 19 and 20. The agency says it could even be larger than six times the diameter of Earth “since the spot lies on a sphere not a flat disk.”
Scientists utilize a rating system for solar flares similar to the Richter scale used to measure earthquakes. While an M-class flare may cause minor disruptions to space based communications equipment and a widespread Aurora effect, their power is fairly subdued with no long-term ramifications.
A higher magnitude X-class flare, however, could have a devastating impact. Researchers project that a powerful enough solar flare, or kill shot, could take down the power grid infrastructure, transportation routing systems, and any electronic equipment that has not been hardened against such extreme electro-magnetic pulses.
In March of 1989 a geo-magnetic storm powered by an X15-class flare struck earth and overloaded Quebec’s hydro powered electric grid. Numerous satellites lost control, and simultaneously Radio Free Europe was taken offline, leaving some Western government officials panicking about the possibility that a nuclear first strike had been initiated by Russia.
In August of that year, another solar flare was responsible for causing a halt to the Toronto Stock exchange.
It has been speculated that a powerful enough solar flare would be as effective at bringing down the world’s modern electrical infrastructure as a targeted super EMP weapon. Were such an event to occur in America, some estimates suggest 9 out of 10 Americans would be dead within a year due to a lack of food and essential utility services.
On November 4, 2003 the largest solar flare ever recorded exploded from the sun. Researchers noted the flare was twice as strong as anything ever recorded, coming in at a “whopping” X45 Class flare. That one narrowly missed earth, but had it been earth facing, could have wreaked havoc across the globe.
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