Categories: Space

Solar Flare Causes Powerful Solar Radiation Storm

M8.7 Class Solar Flare


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.


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.

Karen C. Fox, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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