Sun Hurls Two CMEs at Earth, Possibly Supercharging the Northern Lights

September 11, 2014 4:01 PM

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On Sept. 10, our sun ramped up its activity. The sunspot AR2158 erupted, producing an X1.6-class solar flare. The resulting flash of ultraviolet radiation from the explosion ionized the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere and actually disturbed HF radio communications for more than an hour. Now, it turns out that this flare has resulted in a coronal mass ejection, which is headed directly toward Earth.

X-class flares are the most powerful type of solar flares. Like hurricanes, solar flares are classified based on their intensity. The weakest are known as A-class flares, followed by B, then C and M. X-class flares in particular need to be watched since they pose a risk to astronauts and satellites ...

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