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article imageSun unleashes powerful 'Valentine's Day Solar Flare' (video)

By Andrew Moran     Feb 15, 2011 in Science
Greenbelt - Our sun released its largest solar flare since late 2006 Monday. The solar storm sent flash radiation to our planet and has been dubbed by NASA as the Valentine’s Day Solar Flare.
Digital Journal reported in September 2010 that our sun has entered a new active 11-year solar cycle where it is able to release mild to powerful solar flares that could even hit planet Earth and cause spectacular lighting shows for some parts of the world.
According to NASA, the sun unleashed its first X-class flare on Valentine’s Day Monday. This is the strongest solar flare in four years. This comes as our star emitted several M-class and C-class flares in the last week.
Solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M or X. X-class flares are the strongest of the bunch and can cause anything from radio blackouts to radiation storms that are able to last for long periods of time.
“It has been the largest flare since Dec 6, 2006, so a long time coming,” said deputy project scientist for NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory, Phil Chamberlain, reports “There were some clues that led us to believe the likelihood of moderate to large flares (M class or above) could occur, but we were all surprised when it actually happened to be a large X-class.”
The Weather Space notes that the flare also released coronal mass ejections (CMEs) towards Earth. It is possible that geomagnetic storms could occur when CMEs arrive in approximately 24 hours.
Radio bands over the state of New Mexico and surrounding areas were affected by the flares.
In the high northern and southern latitudes, there will be lighting events in the skies on Tuesday night, reports CNN.
This isn’t the end, though. Scientists are predicting even more X-class flares, including Chamberlain. “This is the first of probably many more X-class flare to occur over the next 2 to 4 years as we reach the peak and then descend back down from solar cycle 24 maximum.”
Theoretical physicist and professor, Michio Kaku, appeared on Fox News in 2009 and warned about the “temper tantrum” of our sun. Kaku stated that the sun can release a “tsunami of radiation” that can take out communications satellites, GPS systems, weather satellites and many others.
“The Internet, Fox television, cable, satellite TV, all of it could get wiped out around 2012,” said Kaku. That’s when we have the peak of the sunspot cycle, that’s when the sun’s magnetic fields, north pole and south pole flip releasing a shockwave of radiation, which will then hit the Earth minutes later, potentially wiping out a good chunk of our satellite communications.”
More about Sun, Earth, Solar flare, Coronal Mass Ejections
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