Anyone who follows the solar system closely will know the Sun is extremely active at the moment and video has emerged of a huge explosion on the surface that has already affected radio communications on Earth.
The scary footage posted by NASA shows what the space agency’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured yesterday (December 14); a space telescope that is constantly watching the Sun.
The Sun emitted a strong solar flare on Dec. 14, 2023, peaking at 12:02 ET. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the event, which was classified as X2.8. https://t.co/4INrRFqIg7 pic.twitter.com/2dJ1YMkiXS
— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) December 14, 2023
The solar flare is the strongest of the current solar cycle and also “likely one of the largest” such events ever recorded, according to NOAA Space Weather.
After the solar blast, shortwave radio frequency blackouts were reported across the United States. The plasma blast could wreak further havoc on Earth, possibly affecting GPS and satellites.
They have the potential to switch train signals from red to green, in the “worst case scenario”, according to study published by Lancaster University on Monday.
The powerful flare is registered as an X2.8, which makes it the most powerful solar since September 2017. The blasts are also known as an extreme coronal mass ejection (CME) which are accompanied by solar plasma firing into space at millions of miles per hour.
“The U.S Air Force is reporting a Type II solar radio burst, which typically comes from the leading edge of a CME. Based on the drift rate of the radio burst, the emerging CME’s velocity could exceed 4.7 million miles per hour,” writes Space Weather.
An Opportunity for Photographers?
Talk of the Sun firing Earth with plasma rays is a little unsettling, but for photographers, it could be a gift as CMEs can create geomagnetic storms and supercharge auroras.
Photographers may want to keep an eye on their weather apps for aurora predictions.
PetaPixel’s “How to Find and Photograph the Northern Lights” guide by Jason Parnell-Brookes is also an invaluable resource for finding dark skies, dialing in the optimal camera settings, and being in the best position to succeed when treated to stunning auroras.