Powerful solar flare hits Earth, causing radio blackouts across Europe and Africa
These days the sun’s beats are having a tremendous effect on sky watchers.
A second series of solar flares (opens in new tab) flashed from the sun on Friday (August 26), after a brilliant show of greenish aurora (opens in new tab) in the atmosphere just days earlier.
“Sunspot AR3089 is throbbing with the intensity of M-class [moderate] solar flares,” SpaceWeather.com (opens in new tab) said in a Friday update. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a particularly powerful flare at 7:16 a.m. EDT (1116 GMT) as populations in Europe and Africa experienced a brief radio blackout.
A massive emission of charged particles from the Sun (opens in new tab) known as a coronal mass ejection (opens in new tab) could hit our planet on Monday (August 29) and cause an aurora around the Arctic Circle, according to a statement (opens in new tab) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Sun is certainly feeling dominant these days, as it is creating a wave of space weather (opens in new tab) to begin the activity of its 11-year solar cycle (opens in new tab). The southern lights were spotted earlier this week (opens in new tab), including the northern swarm and the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti from space. (The veteran astronaut said it was the most powerful storm in her 300 days in space.)
Most space weather (opens in new tab) provides a great show for people on or near Earth, but a small number of particularly powerful storms can damage power lines, satellites and other critical infrastructure our planet depends on.
When the Sun reaches its maximum activity, it becomes furious, as sunspots spread across the surface and magnetic lines twist and snap. If storms are directed toward Earth (opens in new tab), they can produce auroras, blackouts, and other effects.
NASA, the European Space Agency and other space agencies monitor the solar climate 24/7 to provide the best possible protection for Earth, satellite managers and astronauts working on our planet.
If you’ve taken a stunning photo of the Northern Lights, let us know! You can send images and comments to Space.com by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org (opens in new tab). Let us know your name, where you observed from, and how it felt to see the aurora.