Solar Activity Surges: Multiple X-Class Flares Reported: NOAA Says More To Come: “Powerful”
May 14th, 2013
Leading up to 2013 many solar researches forecast that activity on the sun would be heating up as it transitioned into its solar maximum cycle, something that occurs about every 11 years.
New data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which monitors solar activity in conjunction with other agencies and space projects, indicates that this wave of powerful solar storms may be starting.
Solar storms, which are responsible for emitting Coronal Mass Ejections (CME’s), come in waves. In the last 48 hours, the NOAA has identified multiple, powerful X-class solar flares that have been emitted on the eastern tip of the sun. While the sun regularly hurls enormous clouds of super-heated plasma into space, the associated solar flares are usually not powerful enough to cause any disruptions to earth.
X-class flares, however, are extremely powerful and when the charged particles released by the sun slam into the earth they can wreak havoc. They’ve been responsible for everything from interruptions to critical satellite services like global positioning systems to widespread power outages. In 1989 an X-class solar flare was responsible for taking Quebec’s hydro power stations offline, leaving millions of people without electricity.
According to Space Weather reports, activity on the sun has surged over the past two days, and there’s a 40% chance that it’s going to continue through this week, just as the sun moves into a position where it can send a flare directed at earth.
While the three solar flares recorded in recent days are on the lower end of the classification scale, the sunspot area which produced them is reportedly layered with a large and complicated magnetic field. This leaves the door open for the possibility that a future flare emitted from this region could be significantly more powerful than its predecessors.
The primary concern with X-class flares is that one of them could potentially become a solar Killshot, or an earth directed flare so powerful that it could literally take down large portions of the global power grid in a cascading electrical outage resulting from highly charged particles slamming into electrical lines and transformers.