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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

1:00 PM | Suddenly active sun could produce significant solar flares in the next couple of days

Paul Dorian

sunspot

Discussion

The sun has become much more active in recent days and there are now two huge sunspot regions directly in the line of fire with the Earth. Sunspot AR1875 is a fast-growing sunspot region that has developed a “beta-gamma-delta” magnetic field that harbors energy strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of M-class solar flares and a 5% chance of X-class solar flares during the next 24 hours or so. Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth. Yesterday, sunspot region AR1875 produced a M4-class solar flare and it has actually grown in size some since then.

We are currently over four years into Solar Cycle 24 and it has been on a pace that would make it the smallest sunspot cycle since Cycle 14 which peaked in February 1906. However, this cycle is now in a period of solar maximum and there has been some thought that a sharp uptick in activity could occur as we progressed through the year. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and report on any significant coronal mass ejection (CME) that might occur over the next few days.