In a recent occurrence, the Sun displayed unusual tranquility, following a period of potentially hazardous solar storm activity directed towards Earth the previous week. Solar physicist Keith Strong shared observations revealing that despite the calm on Earth, the Sun’s surface was far from peaceful. And it proved that with a super-powerful solar flare.
According to Strong’s post, the Sun remained devoid of significant flares (>C5) for the longest duration since March. The report noted 11 spot regions and a Sunspot number of up to 155, along with the occurrence of 4 Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).
Understanding the Sunspot number:
To comprehend the ionospheric characteristics relevant to high-frequency propagation, knowledge of current solar activity levels is crucial. Traditionally, the Sunspot Number (SSN), which quantifies the count of dark spots on the Sun’s surface, has served as the primary indicator of solar activity.
A Solar Flare’s staggering energy release:
A notable incident involved the eruption of a magnetic filament around 12:00 UT on August 17th. Earth-orbiting satellites detected this event, which led to the reporting of a C5-class solar flare by SpaceWeather.com. Simultaneously, SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) recorded a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) heading into space.
The alarming aspect of this eruption is its energy release, equivalent to that of a billion atomic bombs from World War II. The report humorously noted that such a colossal blast is considered low activity for the Sun, a massive self-contained nuclear entity.
Fortunately, this event is not directed towards Earth, ensuring no imminent harm in the upcoming days.
Positioned 1.5 million kilometers away from Earth, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) continually observes the Sun, capturing remarkable images and valuable data regarding its turbulent phenomena. SOHO’s investigations span from the Sun’s core to its visible layer and turbulent atmosphere, extending to remote regions where the solar wind interacts with interstellar atoms. This mission is a collaborative effort between ESA and NASA.