Seven Solar Flares in Seven Days, What is Going on With The Sun?

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    As you may know, the Sun let out its biggest solar flare in over a decade just last week. That being said, this was the second solar flare of that week.

    Little did we know that was only the beginning because now we are at seven flares. Flare after flare seems to keep coming from this same region on the Sun (AR 2673). Yesterday’s flare was the most recent and it literally caused the Space Weather Prediction Center to issue a string of warnings.

    Power Quadrant

    You see, these solar flares are usually accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs) as these flares were. CMEs are eruptions of stellar material that cause geomagnetic storms here on Earth. While they do create more powerful and highly visible aurorae they can impede on satellites and actually put astronauts in a lot of danger. The fact that the Sun is being so active right now seems to be cause for alarm considered the Sun is heading towards solar minimum (its period of least activity).

    Animation of the X2.2 & X9.3 storms yesterday, SDO. NASA/Goddard/SDO

     

    While officials are not too concerned just yet, solar flares can pose a serious threat to us. They are able to create layers in the ionosphere that absorb radio waves. This would prevent things like emergency services from communicating and remove high-frequency radio completely. SWPC has warned all astronauts currently on the International Space Station to not go on any spacewalks for the time being as these solar flares (or at least the CME from them) can increase radiation levels for the astronauts and in some cases even passengers on airlines.

    What do you think about all of this? Could these solar flares be happening for a dangerous and terrifying reason or do you think this is just a strange coincidence?

     

     



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