A class X flare, one of the most powerful emanating from the Sun, reached Earth in a solar tsunami. This happened on February 17, causing radio blackouts for up to an hour in various parts of the American continent.
The specialized portal space weather reported the fact, based on data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
This event was predicted, but scientists believed that the X-class flare would come from the much larger sunspot AR2336.
The most powerful solar flares
In accordance with LiveScience, eruption classes span categories A, B, C, M, and X, each 10 times more powerful than the last. They are also subdivided from 1 to 9, except for X-class eruptions, which is the upper limit.
The flare, which became a solar tsunami for Earth, spread across the visible surface of the star. NASA defines a solar tsunami as a giant wave of hot plasma, which can travel up to 901,000 kilometers per hour through the photosphere, reaching heights of about 100,000 kilometers.
Also occurring with its rise was a Type II solar flare, a stream of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation, which struck Earth shortly thereafter.
Listen to the result of the “solar tsunami” captured by a citizen scientist
As Live Science points out, the radiation ionized the upper atmosphere, causing small radio blackouts in parts of the American continent for an hour.
Using a radio telescope, citizen scientist Thomas Ashcraft captured an audio recording of the burst slamming into Earth. It lasts one minute and 13 seconds, and you can listen to it here.
“The Sun was right in the beam of my radio telescope when the flare occurred,” Ashcraft told Space Weather. With this he captured the “full force” of the gust, which would not have happened if his telescope was not pointed at the king sun.
Our maximum star is in the most active phase of its 11-year cycle, peaking in 2025. So these types of events will be more common than expected.