October 14, 2019

14.02.11: Sol Unleashes A Powerful Radio Flare.

Our nearest star unleashed the most powerful solar flare of 2011 thus far yesterday, and amateur and professionals alike were on hand to bear witness to the event. On Sunday, February 13th at approximately 1738 Universal Time, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected the burst emanating from the large Earthward facing sunspot group 1158. Likewise, radio amateur astronomers detected a large simultaneous spike in the 19 to 21 MHz frequency range.

This sunspot grouping has grown in recent days to over 100,000 kilometers in size and has dissipated any lingering doubts that the sputtering solar cycle #24 in indeed underway. The European Space Agency’s Solar Heliospheric Observatory and NASA’s twin STEREO space craft also captured the fast paced event from their respective vantage points. The flare was a powerful M6.6 category blast; only an X class flare exerts more energy. The scale runs, from weakest to most energetic: A, B,C, M and X with each being x10 times more powerful than the last. The numbers are linear within the classes.

Will the February 13th flare event produce aurorae? Traditionally, the heavier and more energetic components of these types of events arrive in the local vicinity of Earth within three days; high latitude observers should be on the alert for enhanced auroral activity over the next few nights. The entire sunspot group is currently easily visible for observers with filter equipped telescopes.

 

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