Huge solar flare downs radio communication on Earth

The Sun is constantly releasing huge explosions of plasma into deep space. In this instance, the particles released on the solar flare were pointed right at Earth, leading to technological problems on our planet.


As a result, when the flare hit in the late hours of November 23, certain radio frequencies were blocked out.


Solar flares can be detrimental to radio waves as when they hit the atmosphere, ionisation occurs which saps energy from radio waves.


A video from NASA shows the impressive solar flare, with the Sun seemingly bubbling before bursting into life.


Astronomy site Space Weather said: "Sunspot AR2785 erupted during the late hours of November 23 (2335 UT), producing a C4-class solar flare.


Where radio frequencies went down (Image: NOAA)

"The explosion hurled a plume of plasma more than 350,000 km across the sun.


"NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the splashdown.


"A pulse of ultraviolet radiation from the flare hit Earth, briefly ionizing the top of our atmosphere.


"This, in turn, caused a shortwave radio blackout over the South Pacific, including eastern Australia and all of New Zealand. Frequencies affected were mainly below 10 MHz.


"More solar flares are in the offing. Three of the biggest sunspots of young Solar Cycle 25 (AR2783, AR2785, AR2786) are either facing Earth or turning in our direction.


"They all pose a threat for C-class flares (like the one shown above) with a slight chance of even stronger M-flares."


Scientists have warned a major solar storm could occur at some point, which could devastate society.


On occasion, solar flares can be so powerful they pose a threat to Earth's technology.


As solar particles bombard the atmosphere, it can cause the planet's magnetosphere to expand.


As such, it makes it much more difficult for satellite communications to penetrate the atmosphere, damaging technologies such as mobile phones, satellite television and GPS.


A recent study from the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, Russia, said: "A major solar storm could shut down electricity, television broadcasts, the internet, and radio communications, leading to significant cascading effects in many areas of life.


"According to some experts, the damage from such an extreme event could cost up to several trillion dollars and the restoration of infrastructure and the economy could take up to 10 years.


"Thus, understanding and forecasting the most hazardous extreme events is of prime importance for the protection of society and technology against the global hazards of space weather."

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