Most people may not realize it, but… A huge sunspot has rotated directly into ‘firing position’ for a potential direct hit on Earth. And it’s shooting off X-class flares. It’s like staring down the barrel of a gun aimed right at you. Sort of like playing Russian Roulette.
I couldn’t help but post about sunspot region AR3182 today (with AR3184 on its heels). The region currently has more than 50 sunspots within it. And it has released X-class flares. Here’s a picture of the sun captured just moments ago, as of this posting. Region 3182 staring us in the face…
Just for reference, from this view, sunspots move from left to right. Center being aligned with Earth (although most any relative angle could be consequential to us here on our planet).
To put it into perspective, about 100 planet Earth’s would fit across the equator of the sun. Giving it a rough measurement, it looks like the center blob portion of sunspot region 3182 could fit about six Earth planets within its circumference.
From SpaceWeather.com, Yesterday’s X1.9-class solar flare did not hurl a CME toward Earth. Although it was intense, the blast was too brief to lift a CME out of the sun’s atmosphere. Next time may be different. There are now three large sunspots (AR3181, 82 and 84) with unstable ‘delta-class’ magnetic fields capable of strong explosions. NOAA forecasters say there is a 35% chance of X-flares on Jan. 10th.
I know that this being a current-event, it will come and go, hopefully without issue. However, I do wish to bring awareness to an event that will without a doubt, occur one day. Maybe a long, long time in the future. Or, maybe today…
X-class solar flares
The largest explosions in the solar system get rewarded for their sheer brawn with a fitting, sci-fi-sounding name: X-class. Made visible to us by sun-observing satellites, these solar flares are awesome to watch. Loops of solar material—called plasma—leap off the sun’s surface.
The biggest flares can produce as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs. Scientists categorize solar flares according to strength. The smallest ones are A-class, at near-background solar activity levels, followed by B, C, M, and X.
Similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. So an X is 10 times an M and 100 times a C. Within each letter class there is a finer scale from one to nine. Although X is the last letter, there are flares more than 10 times the power of an X1, so X-class flares can go higher than nine.
Largest X-class solar flare ever measured
The year was 2003. The largest X-class solar flare ever measured (during our modern era of instrumentation). It was so powerful that satellite sensors were overpowered. Sensors cut out at X17 but it was ultimately estimated as an X45. Literally, and fortunately, this flare was not pointed anywhere towards Earth. If it had been facing Earth, that solar flare and associated CME (coronal mass ejection) likely would have destroyed our ‘modern’ era.
July, 2012. A CME occurred with the strength comparable to the 1859 Carrington Event. We barely missed a global catastrophe. The sun revolves in 25 days. That CME missed a direct hit on the earth by nine days of the sun’s revolution.
It is a certainty that at some point in the future, the Earth will receive a direct hit from one of these monster X-class flares / CME. Of course, we do not know when. However when the sun is active with sunspots and flares, the odds certainly go up.
Here’s a video clip from NASA that I found interesting about solar flares/eruptions, how they’re classified (B,C,M,X-class), and how they monitor the sun.
Preparing For The Monster X-class Solar Kill Shot?
I’ve posted about EMP (electromagnetic pulse) here on the blog from time to time. Usually in the context of nuclear weapons (some of which can be purposed as an EMP weapon). It’s use has the potential of ‘frying’ electronics within the countless devices and systems that run our modern world – or where it’s targeted.
Similarly, although by a different mechanism entirely out of the control of humankind, the Sun has potential to impact our modern civilization to a terrifying extent. I don’t look at it as a risk whereby I should drop everything and prepare for such a thing. On the other hand, as one goes through life with a mindset towards furthering preparedness (and all the many aspects thereof), eventually one becomes nicely prepared, in general. Enough for a modern civilization ending event? I suppose that depends…
“One Second After”