An active sunspot that is poised to leave the sun’s visible disc fired its farewell flare toward Earth on Friday morning, triggering a radio blackout across Africa and the Middle East (Sept. 16).
Shortwave radio communications in the regions of the earth that face the sun were interfered with by the solar flare, which was categorised as an M8 in the second-most intense category of flares, as it left the sun on Friday at 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT). Amateur radio operators in Africa and the Middle East may have experienced signal distortion for up to an hour following the flare, according to Spaceweather.com(opens in new tab).
The sunspot AR3098 is expected to pass beyond the sun’s limb, or the visible disk’s edge, today, according to the U.K. space weather forecaster Met Office. The coronal mass ejection (CME), a blast of charged plasma from the sun’s upper atmosphere known as the corona, is thought to have preceded the flare and may be travelling toward Earth, according to space weather analysts. If so, the world may suffer a geomagnetic storm later this weekend, according to a statement from the Met Office (opens in new tab).
The Met Office reported that a second, milder flare occurred on Thursday, September 15, in connection with a CME whose potential impact on Earth is still being investigated. All of this may be excellent news for aurora hunters, as the breathtaking polar lights may intensify and become visible farther from their typical polar regions.
Things are anticipated to become quieter after the energetic sunspot AR3098 makes its final appearance, which is anticipated to occur later this weekend, according to the Met Office’s statement. The Met Office reported that there are currently three more sunspots on the sun’s surface, all of which “look stable and reasonably magnetically simple.” There isn’t now any suspicious behaviour that could indicate the approach of further active sunspots that aren’t yet visible below the sun’s eastern limb, according to space weather forecasters.
Additionally, the sun currently has a coronal hole, an opening in the magnetic field lines, from which solar wind is blowing more quickly than usual. This could help explain why there is more auroral activity at higher latitudes. Electrical and radio communication equipment on Earth shouldn’t be affected because the total amount of solar wind and CMEs is not anticipated to produce more than a moderate geomagnetic storm.