Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-Porn of the Day: Huge Solar Storm Hitting Us Now

The Sun exploded late Sunday, January 22, with a massive flare, an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection, and a burst of fast-moving, highly energetic protons. The latter has caused the strongest solar radiation storm since September 2005 according to NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center.

NASA models predict that the CME is moving at almost 1,400 miles per second, and are right now pummeling Earth's protective magnetosphere. This has the potential to provide lovely auroral displays, possibly at lower latitudes than normal... and HORRIBLE DOOOOM! Well, it is a threat to satellites, the Space Station, and so forth. Check it out:

That flash you see in the blue portion is many dozens of times the size of Earth; the eruption you see in the red is... well, larger than the Sun. They're not the biggest ones ever or anything like that, but the exciting part of this event is that the ejection is pointed at us.

We've never endured a period of high solar activity with today's level of dependence upon communication technology, so it'll be interesting to see how this affects communications.

Tags: astronomy

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