It seems the sun has a sentimentality for the holidays as a solar flare is set to hit Earth for the second time this month, this time on Halloween.
On Thanksgiving, Canadians were treated to a dazzling display of the aurora borealis that was caused by a coronal mass ejection, where magnetized plasma and particles erupt from the sun and wash over Earth. That storm was classified as G2 — fairly moderate in terms of storms from space
However, this new solar storm is much stronger. In a statement, NASA said the “significant storm” is an X1. The X class of solar storms is the strongest, and the number corresponds to the storm’s strength. So, although this is the strongest class of storm it’s far weaker than say an X3 or an X10, which is considered unusually intense.
POW! The Sun just served up a powerful flare! ☀️ 💥
At 11:35 a.m. EDT today, a powerful X1-class solar flare erupted from the Sun. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory caught it all on camera. 📸
— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) October 28, 2021
The U.S. Space Weather Prediction Centre said the storm was caused by a coronal mass ejection that peaked on Oct. 28. Particles from the sun are now blazing towards Earth at a speed of 973 kilometres per second. The storm is expected to hit Earth on Oct. 30 and effects will continue into Oct. 31.
A Direct Hit for #Halloween! The #solarstorm launched during the X-flare today is indeed Earth-directed! NASA predictions confirm impact by early October 31. Expect #aurora to mid-latitudes, as well as #GPS reception issues and #amateur radio disruptions on Earth's nightside! pic.twitter.com/Jjk3eixWIq
— Dr. Tamitha Skov (@TamithaSkov) October 28, 2021
As a result of the storm, the Northern Lights will likely make another appearance in the mid-latitudes. Solar storms can cause disruptions with radio, GPS and other satellite-based technology. This flare already caused a radio blackout across South America on Thursday.
NASA explained that the sun entered a new cycle, Solar Cycle 25 in Dec. 2019. New solar cycles commence every 11 years and the sun goes through periods of storminess to relative calm. This will be the second X class flare of the current cycle. An X-1.6 flare was recorded on July 3 and was the largest recorded since 2017.
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