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About The Solar Flare

Context:

Recently, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a powerful “X-class” solar flare that was classified as an X1.2 flare.

Relevance:

GS III: Science and Technology

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Details
  2. About  Solar flares
  3. Impacts

Details:

  • The X1.2 flare erupted from sunspot AR3256 near the southwestern limb of the star in our Solar System.
  • It led to a strong shortwave radio blackout in south-east Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

About Solar flares

  • Solar flares are magnetic plasma ejected from the Sun’s surface during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots.
  • They can last for a few minutes or hours and are classified into 4 classes – B, C, M, and X – based on their strength.
Classification:
  • Solar flares are classified on a logarithmic scale similar to the Richter scale.
  • The class denotes the strength of the flare, and the number that comes after it signifies their strength at a finer scale. Each class is divided into 9 subdivisions.

Impacts:

 Solar flares can have significant impacts on various technological systems, including:

  • Radio Communications: They can disrupt or even completely black out radio communication systems, especially those that operate in the high-frequency bands.
  • Electric Power Grids: They can cause power outages and damage to transformers and other electrical equipment.
  • Navigation Signals: They can disrupt GPS signals, which are used for navigation by aircraft, ships, and other vehicles.
  • Spacecraft and Astronauts: They can pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts by exposing them to high levels of radiation, which can damage equipment and harm human health.

X-class flares, which are the strongest, can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. Therefore, it is important for scientists to monitor and predict solar flares to minimize their impacts on technological systems and human health.

-Source: The Hindu


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