Recently, the Sun emitted X-class solar flares which disrupted radio communications over parts of the United States and the Pacific Ocean.
About Solar flares:
- What is it? These are magnetic plasma ejected at great speed from the solar surface.
- They occur during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots (‘dark’ regions on the Sun that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere), and can last for a few minutes or hours.
- These flares can be divided into various categories based on their brightness in X-ray wavelengths
- There are five different classes of solar flares: A, B, C, M, and X.
- Each class is at least ten times more potent than the one before it.
- X-class flares are large and M-class are medium-sized flares typically result in brief radio blackouts that affect the Earth’s Polar Regions.
- C-class flares are slight and have little effect on the Earth.
Impact of Solar Flares on Earth
- The energy particles released by solar flares into space impact the ionosphere and radio communications at the Earth.
- They can even affect power grids and navigation signals and endanger astronauts and spacecraft.
Q1) What is ionosphere?
The ionosphere is a region of the Earth's upper atmosphere, extending approximately 60 kilometers to 1,000 kilometers above the Earth's surface. It is characterized by the presence of ions, which are electrically charged particles, and free electrons. The ionosphere plays a crucial role in various atmospheric and communication phenomena.