2 major solar flares Friday -- the second twice as intense as the first
The sun shot out a pair of gigantic solar flares early Friday -- the second one even bigger than the first, a NOAA expert tells the Los Angeles Times.If you follow the link, it has video.
An X1-class solar flare occurred at about 1 a.m. PDT, followed by an even larger one about eight hours later.
"This one was an X2, twice as intense as the X1 that just occurred," said Bill Murtagh, program coordinator with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, in an interview Friday morning.
News of the latest activity came as NASA released a spectacular video and image, see above, of a solar eruption in September, what the space agency termed a "canyon of fire."
The video shows a 200,000-mile-long filament leaping from the atmosphere of the sun and creating a rippling, glowing canyon, which "traces the channel where magnetic fields held the filament aloft before the explosion," NASA says.
So what's with all the activity? Our home star is hitting solar maximum in its 11-year cycle activity, and scientists had predicted it would be meh -- a wimpier maximum than in cycles past.
The sunspot group that has been active Friday is rotating nearer the center of the sun, he noted. If the flares keep up, there could be more serious effects in store for Earth in the next three or four days.
Murtagh said that indeed this is the "lowest solar maximum since back in the 1900-1910 time frame." But that doesn't mean that X-class flares and their attendant problems will not occur. [...]