Categories: Space

Solar Flare Causes Powerful Solar Radiation Storm

M8.7 Class Solar Flare

Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA

The most powerful solar radiation storm since 2005 was caused by a solar energetic particle event concurrent with an M8.7 class flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME) directed towards earth that occurred late January 22, 2012. With a rate of travel of 1,400 miles per second, the CME is expected to reach Earth’s magnetosphere sometime between 7 hours before and 7 hours after 9 a.m. ET on January 24.

The sun erupted late on January 22, 2012, with an M8.7 class flare, an earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), and a burst of fast moving, highly energetic protons known as a “solar energetic particle” event. The latter has caused the strongest solar radiation storm since September 2005 according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.

Credit: SOHO/ESA/NASA

NASA’s Goddard Space Weather Center’s models predict that the CME is moving at almost 1,400 miles per second, and could reach Earth’s magnetosphere – the magnetic envelope that surrounds Earth— as early as tomorrow, Jan 24 at 9 AM ET (plus or minus 7 hours). This has the potential to provide good auroral displays, possibly at lower latitudes than normal.

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By
Karen C. Fox, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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