Sun firing powerful solar flares at Earth; expect auroral delights


Photo: NASA – An X9.3 class solar flare flashes in the middle of the Sun on Sept. 6, 2017. This image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 131 angstrom wavelengths.

“Our sun is having a moment here at the end of its 11-year, solar-maximum cycle.

One of two new, massive groups of sunspots — areas of profound magnetic intensification — erupted into the most powerful solar flare in a decade on Wednesday and then fired off two more flares early Thursday. That was after an eruption on Monday that sent a wave of solar plasma (a superheated cloud of magnetized particles) at the Earth.

Monday’s wave of solar plasma, called a coronal mass ejection, was predicted to cause aurora to be visible much farther south than usual when it hit Earth on Wednesday night. And now, more is on the way because of the latest flares.

The sun should be winding down, entering its solar-minimum stage, when fewer sunspots dot its surface. “This is a phase when such eruptions on the sun are increasingly rare, but history has shown that they can nonetheless be intense,” NASA says.”

Full details on the solar flare activity at SeattlePi.