The Biggest Solar Storm In A Decade Knocked Out Earth's GPS Communications

Solar storms are generally calm due to the Earth's protective magnetic field, but they could prove to be hazardous to modern living because they can cause destruction with continent-spanning electrical systems.

Solar flares occur in sun spots, the cooler regions of the sun.

The most most powerful X-class flare was an incredible X28 (which is the limit of the measuring devices) on November 4, 2003.

The most powerful event to effect Earth on record is the Carrington Event, named after Richard Carrington, an amateur astronomer who witnessed a solar flare (estimated to be an X10) while sketching sunspots in England in 1859.

"So this one happened to have the right ingredients". The spots look like dark splotches on the face of the star. The flash of light and high energy particles released is the solar flare, while the solar matter from the magnetic contortions are CMEs.

Usually the oval of the aurora stays close to the poles, where charged particles are dragged down along magnetic field lines.

In other words, people who don't usually see auroras might get a chance to see the dancing curtains of light thanks to the powerful flares this week.

NASA has set a "strong geomagnetic storm watch" through Saturday as a result of the flare.

"Analysis indicates likely CME [coronal mass ejection] arrival late on 8 September into early 9 September", the SWPC wrote in an update. The sun sent out a burst of hot plasma that is expected to hit the Earth, setting off possible solar storms that will be visible in selected parts of the country. However, they could also cause significant damage to orbiting satellites and power systems on the planet. These solar flares have a measurement scale of their own. The X9.3 flare was the strongest observed since an X9.0 in December 2006 and the eighth most powerful since at least June 1996, according to and They added that the X9.3 flare was the largest produced thus far during the current solar cycle, an 11 year period of the sun's waxing and waning activity that began back in December 2008.

  • Valerie Cook