Solar Flare

Strongest Solar Radiation Storm in 7 Years

A powerful solar eruption is expected to blast a stream of charged particles toward Earth on January 24, as the strongest radiation storm since 2005 rages on the sun. The solar flare spewed from sunspot 1402, a region of the sun that has become increasingly active lately. Several NASA satellites, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and the Stereo spacecraft observed the massive sun storm. According to NOAA, this is the strongest solar radiation storm since May 2005. A preliminary inspection of SOHO/STEREO imagery suggests that the CME will deliver a strong glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on January 24-25 as it sails mostly north of our planet. Sunday’s solar flare was rated an M9-class eruption, which placed it just on the verge of being an X-class flare, the most powerful type of solar storm. M-class sun storms are powerful but mid-range, while C-class flares are weaker. The sun’s activity waxes and wanes on an 11-year cycle. Currently, our planet’s nearest star is in the midst of Solar Cycle 24, and activity is expected to ramp up toward solar maximum in 2013.