Geomagnetic Storm Could Hit BC After Massive Solar Flare Strikes The Earth

X-class represents the most intense solar flares, with an X2 being twice as intense as an X1.

It's the biggest flare on record in a decade. The solar cycle - a 11 year periodic activity cycle - began in 2008 and is now moving to the lowest level of activity.

The path of the solar flare's CME is now being modelled to see whether some of the material could impact our atmosphere. Both were captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which is constantly monitoring the sun and its activity.

As of about 11.30am NZT, data from several satellites showed a sharp increase in activity. The first solar flare was classified X2.2 with the second X9.3.

The Sun released two huge solar flares yesterday, the second of which was the strongest registered in over a decade.

These solar storms are the result of an accumulation of magnetic energy in some places. Oftentimes, solar flares are also associated with coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which throw out super-heated plasma from the Sun into space.

Solar flares occur in cooler regions of the sun, called sunspots. However, as Onsager told LiveScience, this status is based more on the frequency of flares, not their potential intensity. When the particles of a CME blow past our atmosphere, they can cause further problems that can include satellite and power grid disruptions.

This morning (Sept. 7), the SWPC issued a new G3 (strong) geomagnetic storm watch "in anticipation of the arrival of another CME associated with the X9.3 flare" seen on Wednesday. High-frequency radio signals blacked out across the daytime side of Earth for about an hour after Wednesday's initial bursts, according to National Geographic.

While a CME did erupt in the wake of these two solar flares, NASA is still trying to analyze whether or not Earth is in its path.

The Sun may not be done yet, either - the large group of sunspots, which is visible through a protective solar filter (including those solar eclipse glasses you may still have lying around), has already sent out other, weaker M-class flares.

  • Joe Gonzales