A series of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) en route to Earth from sunspot 1158 will buffet our planet's magnetic field during the next 24-48 hours. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of geomagnetic activity on Feb. 17th.
Image credit: NASA / SDO / AIA
Sunspot 1158 has unleashed the strongest solar flare in more than four years. The eruption, which peaked at 01:56 UTC on Feb. 15th, registered X2 on the Richter scale of solar flares. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded an intense flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation
X-flares are the strongest type of solar flare, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. In addition to flashing Earth with UV radiation, the explosion also hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) in our direction.
Less than a week ago, sunspot 1158 didn't exist. Now it is wider than the planet Jupiter and unleashing the strongest solar flares since Dec. 2006.