SOLAR ACTIVITY SURGES: A sunspot on the sun’s eastern limb is crackling with powerful X-class solar flares. It announced itself with an X1.7-class eruption on May 13th at 0217 UT, quickly followed by an X2.8-class flare at 1609 UT. These are the strongest flares of 2013, and they signal a significant uptick in solar activity. More eruptions are in the offing
Both of today’s flares have produced strong flashes of extreme ultraviolet radiation.
The sunspot that produced this blast is on the farside of the sun. Soon, in a few days, it will turn toward Earth, emerging into view over the sun’s eastern limb.
The explosions also hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into space.
Coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory are tracking the clouds: movie. The planet in the CME movie is Mercury. Although the CMEs appear to hit Mercury, they do not. In fact, no planets were in the line of fire.
However, the CMEs appear to be on course to hit NASA’s Epoxi and Spitzer spacecraft on May 15-16.
Like hurricanes, solar flares have an ascending scale. X-class flares are the most dangerous. They can result in EMPs that have the potential to damage satellites and even put the grid out of action on Earth.
Various agencies have warned of this possibility for years, and Congress has voted a small amount of money to “harden” critical equipment. But not enough to counteract a really massive EMP.
As for the artifact mentioned in the image caption above, check out this much better Goddard Space Center video recorded today, and watch the artifact move at the 1`.30 mark.
They’ve also posted videos of the TWO flares, the X1.7 and the X2.8 that happened today (May 13). On YouTube Here.
Footnote:- Some of the International Space Station astronauts are on their way home today, two days after fixing an ammonia leak outside their spacecraft. Two others will stay on board. This may be a coincidence in that we have no information to say the ISS is in the path of any solar flares.