Fall of the Magnetic Field

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Fall of the Magnetic Field

Radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere, causing a shortwave radio blackout around the Atlantic Ocean: blackout map. Radio transmissions at frequencies below ~30 MHz were attenuated for more than an hour after the flare.

Since the flare occurred, a mish-mash of CMEs has billowed away from the sun’s southern hemisphere. It is unclear if these CMEs are related to the X-flare or instead some other, lesser explosions that happened at almost the same time. There was a filament eruption to the right of the X-flare, and a C4-class solar flare in a different sunspot to the left. NOAA analysts are busy unraveling these events using computer models to determine if one of the CMEs might hit Earth. Stay tuned

The mixture of magnetic polarities makes this sunspot interesting and dangerous. When opposite polarities bump together, it can light the fuse of magnetic reconnection–the explosive power source of solar flares. If AR3006 flares today, it will be geoeffective. The sunspot is directly facing Earth.

Update: The sunspot *did* flare today. An X1.5 class explosion on May 10th (1355 UT) caused a radio backout over the Atlantic Ocean and may have hurled a complicated CME toward Earth.

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