Radio blackouts were observed after the Sun sent out one of its most powerful flares late into Saturday night, 11:34 pm EDT, Space.com reported. The flare registered as Class X1.1 lasted for 34 minutes.
Solar flares are localized eruptions of electromagnetic radiation in the Sun's atmosphere. However, the intensity of these flares can be felt even on Earth as they trigger disruptions in the upper atmosphere and cause communication blackouts. Based on their strength, solar flares are classified into Class A, B, C, M, and X, with A being the weakest and X being the most powerful flares, NASA said on its website.
The flare that erupted over the weekend
The flare originated from regions 2994 and 2993 on the eastern side of the solar surface, which have seen active flaring in recent times and these are newly numbered regions on the solar disc, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) said on its website.
The event has been classified as an R3 (strong) event with a Type II radio sweep and a 10 radio burst. A coronal mass ejection (CME) was observed shortly afterward, SWPC added.
The burst was likely caused by the shock waves in the leading edge of the CME, astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on the website. However, since the ejection occurred on the eastern side of the sun, it did not travel toward the Earth. Yet, regions in Southeast Asia and Australia faced brief radio blackouts with "unusual propagation effects" seen below the 30 MHz frequency, the Weather Channel said in its report.
More to come
The recent flare comes on the heel of another "cannibal" flare that hit Earth's atmosphere a little over a fortnight ago. The SPWC has warned that the rather active region on the Sun's disc is expected to send out some more flares this week after the sunspots were seen migrating across the solar disc.
The Sun itself is currently in an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle which began in 2019, so we might see some more powerful solar flares coming our way.