Strong solar flare produces intense radio bursts and widespread radio blackouts across North America

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Strong solar flare on May 7 2021, Strong solar flare on May 7 2021 video, Strong solar flare on May 7 2021 photo
Strong solar flare on May 7, 2021. Picture via NOAA

New sunspot AR2822 exploded on May 7th, producing an M3.9-class solar flare, one of the strongest flares of young Solar Cycle 25. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the explosion near the sun’s northeastern limb:

The shadowy wave emerging from the blast site is a “solar tsunami,” a swell of hot magnetized plasma about 100,000 km tall racing along the sun’s surface at 250 km/s (560,000 mph).

You can “hear” a solar tsunami

When such a shock wave ripples through the sun’s atmosphere, it causes solar plasma to oscillate, generating natural radio emissions detectable by shortwave receivers on Earth.

Indeed, while the eruption was underway, astronomer Thomas Ashcraft heard a roar of static emerge from the loudspeaker of his radio telescope in rural New Mexico.

After a long quiet solar minimum, I am happy to have captured the M3.9 solar flare on May 7th,” says Ashcraft. “It generated complex and dynamic Type IIType V and Type III radio emissions at frequencies between 15 MHz and 30 MHz.

Related: Scientist predicted a man named ‘Elon’ would colonise Mars in book written 70 YEARS ago

Widespread radio blackout in Canada and USA

Ironically, while the sun was trumpeting radio static, the flare caused a radio blackout.

Ultraviolet and X-radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere, especially over North America.

radio blackout solar flare may 7 2021
Powerful solar flare creates radio blackout across Canada and USA. Picture via SpaceWeather

Ham radio operators and mariners may have noticed strange propagation effects at frequencies below 30 MHz, with some transmissions below 15 MHz completely extinquished.

We are doomed!

More subtle than meteorological weather, space weather usually acts on technological systems, and has potential impacts that range from communication disruption to power grid failures.

An ability to predict space weather is an essential tool in providing warnings so that mitigation can be attempted, and to hopefully, in extreme cases, forestall a disaster.

Now according to a new study, the prediction of space weather is only truly reliable about one hour in advance! So we are doomed!

It may be Mark Twain who said “it is hard to make predictions, especially about the future,” but it is certainly true in the case of space weather. [Spaceweather, The Conversation]

Related: Now build your own rocket with your kid with this awesome kit

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Lost all AM stations yesterday for a brief period. Static only. Reception is poor in my offgrid area anyways. Didn’t miss much drivel.

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