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Solar flare causes radio blackout over Indian Ocean

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    31st Jan, 2022

Context

In a recent even, the sunspot AR2929 erupted, producing a powerful M5.5-class solar flare, which has been recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in an extreme ultraviolet flash.

  • During the flare, a pulse of X-rays ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a shortwave radio blackout around the Indian Ocean.

About

What is Solar flare?

  • A solar flare is a tremendous explosion on the Sun that happens when energy stored in 'twisted' magnetic fields (usually above sunspots) is suddenly released.

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs)

  • Solar flares are different to 'coronal mass ejections' (CMEs), which were once thought to be initiated by solar flares.
  • CMEs are huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours.
  • Although some are accompanied by flares, it is now known that most CMEs are not associated with flares.

Classification of solar flare

  • Solar flares are classified into three categories according to their brightness in the x-ray wavelengths.
    • X-class flaresare big; they are major events that can trigger radio blackouts around the whole world and long-lasting radiation storms in the upper atmosphere.
    • M-class flaresare medium-sized; they generally cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare.
    • C-class flares: Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.
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