Massive solar flare causes radio blackouts in Africa and the Middle East

(ORDO NEWS) — The M8 flare occurred on an active sunspot on Friday morning (September 16). An active sunspot that is about to leave the visible disk of the Sun fired its farewell flare towards Earth, causing a radio blackout in Africa and the Middle East on Friday morning (September 16).

A solar flare classified as M8, the second most energetic flare category, left the Sun at 5:49 AM EDT (0949 GMT) on Friday, disrupting shortwave radio communications in sun-facing parts of the world. Radio amateurs in Africa and the Middle East could experience signal distortion up to an hour after the outbreak.

Britain’s Met Office space weather service predicts that more flares are likely today before sunspot AR3098 disappears beyond the solar limb (the edge of the Sun’s visible disk).

Space weather forecasters believe that the flare could be accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) – the ejection of charged plasma from the upper atmosphere of the Sun, the corona, and can be directed towards the Earth.

If so, the planet could experience a geomagnetic storm later in the weekend, the Met Office said in a statement (opens in a new tab).

On Thursday (September 15) there was another, weaker outbreak, the Met Office said, related to the CME, which is still being analyzed for the possibility of it colliding with the Earth and affecting it.

All of this could be good news for aurora lovers, as the spectacular aurora could intensify and become visible farther away from their normal polar regions.

After busy sunspot AR3098 makes its final bow, which is expected to happen later during the weekend, things are expected to be quieter, the Met Office said in a statement.

Three other sunspots are currently visible on the face of the Sun, all of which “appear to be stable and relatively simple magnetically,” the Met Office said.

At present, forecasters are not detecting any suspicious activity that could signal the approach of other active sunspots beyond the eastern limb of the Sun that are not yet visible.

In addition, there is currently a coronal hole on the Sun, a hole in the magnetic field lines from which the solar wind blows faster than normal, which may contribute to aurora activity at high latitudes.

All of the solar winds and CMEs combined are not expected to generate more than a minor geomagnetic storm, meaning that electrical and radio communication technologies on Earth will not be disrupted.

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