(The Telegraph) Parts of the UK have been treated to spectacular light shows caused by a huge solar flare with the energy of a billion hydrogen bombs, UK scientists have said.
— Sun Viewer (@SunViewer) September 6, 2017
The largest solar flare for more than 12 years – and the eighth-largest since modern records began in 1996 – erupted from the sun on Wednesday and has been captured in high detail by a team of researchers.
— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) September 5, 2017
The massive burst of radiation, one of three so called X-category flares observed over a 48-hour period, continues to produce spectacular aurora displays across northern latitudes, including northern England and Scotland
The Northern Lights have been visible across a wide area, although poor weather across many parts of the country has led to disappointment for many enthusiasts.
— Graham Walker (@GW1962) September 9, 2017
A team from a consortium of UK universities, including the University of Sheffield and Queen’s University Belfast, observed the huge coronal mass ejections in extremely high detail using the Swedish Solar Telescope on the island of La Palma, in The Canaries.
The scientists said the data collected will help predict when and where X-class flares might occur in the future and this information can be channelled into the multi-billion pound space weather industry to better protect satellites from the dangers of the sun.
X9.3 Solar Flare, Largest in 12 years, 15th Largest Solar Flare Ever Recorded! pic.twitter.com/lJvu6Elb35
— Ben (@TheRealS0s) September 6, 2017
Dr Chris Nelson, from the University of Sheffield’s School of Maths and Statistics, said: “It’s very unusual to observe the opening minutes of a flare’s life. We can only observe about 1/250th of the solar surface at any one time using the Swedish Solar Telescope, so to be in the right place at the right time requires a lot of luck.
No, that's not Hurricane Irma. That's the disruption area for the massive X9.3 solar flare the sun put out today. pic.twitter.com/skPj7EMbdz
— Peter Gleick (@PeterGleick) September 6, 2017
“To observe the rise phases of three X-classes over two days is just unheard of.”
Dr Aaron Reid, from Queen’s University Belfast’s Astrophysics Research Centre, said: “The sun is currently in what we call solar minimum. The number of Active Regions, where flares occur, is low, so to have X-class flares so close together is very usual. These observations can tell us how and why these flares formed so we can better predict them in the future.”
This article (Solar flare with the energy of a billion hydrogen bombs lights up British skies) was originally published on The Telegraph and syndicated by The Event Chronicle.The Event Chronicle’s Solar Watch Archive →