Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sun emits its strongest solar flare of 2014 - releasing radiation into space at 4.4 MILLION mph

Sun emits its strongest solar flare of 2014
The sun's period of peak activity may be beginning to fade, but our star doesn't plan on moving out of its 'solar maximum' quietly.

At 00.49 GMT this morning, a huge sunspot released a massive X4.9-class flare - the biggest of 2014.

Because of its location on the sun's southeastern limb, the flare is not expected to impact satellites or radio communication, scientists claim.

'Radio emissions from shock waves at the leading edge of the cornoal mass ejection (CME) suggest an expansion velocity near 2000 km/s or 4.4 million mph,' said Spaceweather.com.

'If such a fast-moving cloud did strike Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storms could be severe. However, because its trajectory is so far off the sun-Earth line, the CME will deliver a glancing blow, at best.'

The flare follows a newly-released image of the strongest solar flare to be pictured by Nasa's Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (Iris) since it launched in the summer of 2013.
On January 28, an M-class flare -- which is the second strongest class flare after X-class – erupted from the sun, sending light and x-rays deep into space.

Iris peers into a layer of the sun's lower atmosphere just above the surface, called the chromosphere, with unprecedented resolution.

However, the probe can't look at the entire sun at the same time, so the team have to anticipate where they will see the most solar activity.

Earlier in January, the sun unleashed a massive solar flare seven times the size of Earth from one of the largest sunspots seen on the star’s surface.

The stunning X1.2-class flare, the first major one of the year, peaked at 6:32pm GMT on January 7th and followed on the heels of a mid-level flare earlier in the day.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Their energy travels at the speed of light to reach Earth in just eight minutes.

At Earth, a part of the atmosphere called the ionosphere absorbs it.
Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground.

However, when intense enough, flares can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is on-going, anywhere from minutes to hours.

The latest flare already delayed the launch of a private cargo ship to the International Space Station which was due to lift off today.

The sun is currently in an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle. The current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, began in 2008.

In November, the sun fired off a similarly huge solar flare causing a wide-area blackout of high frequency signal.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2567377/Sun-emits-strongest-solar-flare-2014-releasing-radiation-space-4-4-MILLION-mph-dont-worry-wont-hit-Earth.html#ixzz2uMgxrMdw 

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