|Northern lights over Lake Superior|
Photo by Shawn Malone, available on spaceweather.com
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
X5-class solar flare on its way!
A huge X5-class eruption at 00:28 UT, March 7, is heading toward earth (a mild storm had already started prior to the X5 class one). This CME is coming out of sunspot group 1429. X-class flares are major events that can trigger "planetwide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms." On another scale (of magnetic field intensity?), the Kp-index, this is a 5-6 event. A Kp index of 5 or greater indicates storm-level geomagnetic activity. These storms, in turn, are associated with charging of surfaces on satellites, and with increased atmospheric drag on satellites as the atmosphere inflates under the influence of the event.
The CME is expected to reach earth on March 8th at 0625 UT (+/1 7 hours). If I'm doing my time-zones right, that's about 10:25 p.m. tonight Central Standard Time here in Illinois. This was the strongest CME in 5 years. Have already had high-frequency radio blackouts, could have power grid outages... This is kind of a fun, "energetic" description of the "sun going 'boom;!"
Posted by Susan W. Kieffer at 3:08 PM