Midnight In The Desert — solar flares

'Superflares' may make it hard for life to thrive on Earth's nearest exoplanet

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'Superflares' may make it hard for life to thrive on Earth's nearest exoplanet

The nearest exoplanet to Earth may get hit hard by damaging ultraviolet radiation, making it tough for life to survive there, a new study suggests. That planet, the roughly Earth-mass Proxima b, circles the small, dim star Proxima Centauri, which lies just 4.2 light-years from Earth. And Proxima b orbits in its host's star "habitable zone" — the just-right range of distances where liquid water could theoretically exist on a world's surface. But there's a lot more to habitability than just being in the habitable zone, as the new study indicates. In it, a team of researchers analyzing observations by...

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'Hole' in the Sun Spawns Powerful Solar Wind; Could Amp Up Auroras

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'Hole' in the Sun Spawns Powerful Solar Wind; Could Amp Up Auroras

A massive "hole" on the surface of the sun has unleashed a strong solar wind that scientists say may amp up the northern lights in some areas of the U.S. and could disrupt satellite communications over the next few days. Data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory revealed a vast region where the sun's magnetic field has opened up, creating a gap in the sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona. This region, also known as a coronal hole, allows charged particles to escape and flow toward Earth in an increased solar wind. As a result, the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center...

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Solar storm could strike Earth this week: What you need to know

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Solar storm could strike Earth this week: What you need to know

A solar storm — a disturbance in Earth’s magnetic field caused by changes in solar wind — is forecast to hit Earth this week, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has warned. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm watch for Tuesday and Wednesday. The storm watch was issued "due to the arrival of a negative polarity coronal hole high speed stream," SWPC explained in a post online Sunday. C. Alex Young, associate director for science in the heliophysics science division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, wrote in a report published Monday that...

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Why the sun will soon get dimmer

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Why the sun will soon get dimmer

Scientist say the sun is expected to go into a dimmer, cooler cycle by 2050. What does this mean for planet earth? It’s what scientists have termed a “grand minimum” — a particularly low point in what is otherwise a steady 11-year cycle. Over this cycle, the sun’s tumultuous heart races and rests. At its high point, the nuclear fusion at the sun’s core forces more magnetic loops high into its boiling atmosphere — ejecting more ultraviolet radiation and generating sunspots and flares. When it’s quiet, the sun’s surface goes calm. It ejects less ultraviolet radiation. Now scientists have scoured...

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Sun Unleashes Strongest Solar Flare of Past Decade

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Sun Unleashes Strongest Solar Flare of Past Decade

Early this morning (Sept. 6), the sun released two powerful solar flares—the second was the most powerful in more than a decade. At 5:10 a.m. EDT (0910 GMT), an X-class solar flare—the most powerful sun-storm category—blasted from a large sunspot on the sun's surface. That flare was the strongest since 2015, at X2.2, but it was dwarfed just 3 hours later, at 8:02 a.m. EDT (1202 GMT), by an X9.3 flare, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). The last X9 flare occurred in 2006 (coming in at X9.0). According to SWPC, the flares...

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