7th X-class event of 2023

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7th X-class event of 2023

From: https://spaceweather.com

ANOTHER X-CLASS SOLAR FLARE: This is becoming routine. The sun just produced another X-class solar flare, the 7th of 2023. The X1.2-category explosion came from sunspot AR3256 near the sun’s southwestern limb:

Radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere, causing a strong shortwave radio blackout over southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Ham radio operators may have noticed loss of signal and other propagation effects below 30 MHz for as much as an hour after the peak of the flare (March 29th @ 0233 UT).

A faint CME left the sun after the explosion. NOAA analysts have determined that it will miss Earth–no impact.

The real significance of this flare may be the number “7.” That’s the total number of X-flares in all of 2022. With today’s flare, the sun has already matched that total in 2023–and it’s only March.

This is yet another sign that Solar Cycle 25 is rapidly intensifying. If the trend continues, we could have nearly 30 X-flares by the end of 2023, an order-of-magnitude greater activity than only two years ago. Official forecasts are calling for Solar Maximum to arrive in 2024 or 2025. If so, there is plenty of time for the solar cycle to intensify even more; X-flares could become routine, indeed.

March 31..

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Almost once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with sensors that detect secondary cosmic rays, a form of radiation from space that can penetrate all the way down to Earth’s surface. Our monitoring program has been underway without interruption for 7 years, resulting in a unique dataset of in situ atmospheric measurements.

Latest results (July 2022): Atmospheric radiation is decreasing in 2022. Our latest measurements in July 2022 registered a 6-year low:

What’s going on? Ironically, the radiation drop is caused by increasing solar activity. Solar Cycle 25 has roared to life faster than forecasters expected. The sun’s strengthening and increasingly tangled magnetic field repels cosmic rays from deep space. In addition, solar coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays, causing sharp reductions called “Forbush Decreases.” The two effects blend together to bring daily radiation levels down.

.Who cares? Cosmic rays are a surprisingly “down to Earth” form of space weather. They can alter the chemistry of the atmosphere, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. According to a study from the Harvard T.H. Chan school of public health, crews of aircraft have higher rates of cancer than the general population. The researchers listed cosmic rays, irregular sleep habits, and chemical contaminants as leading risk factors. A number of controversial studies (#1, #2, #3, #4) go even further, linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death.

Technical notes: The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Data points in the graph labeled “Stratospheric Radiation” correspond to the peak of the Regener-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Regener and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

Flares, Filament Eruption, Solar Health Impact | S0 News Mar.30.2023 (3 min)