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Washington, March 30 – The Sun has emitted a strong solar flare severely affecting radio communications on Earth, according to NASA.
The flare, classified as X1.2, is the seventh solar flare to hit Earth this year, and was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the Sun constantly.
X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength.
The strong solar flare peaked at 10:33 p.m. ET (8:03 a.m. IST) on March 28, the observatory said.
“A R3 (Strong) HF radio blackout event occurred due to a X1.2 flare from Region 3256 on March 28, at 10:33 p.m. EDT,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center said in a statement.
The strong solar flare ionised the top layer of Earth’s atmosphere, affecting radio communications across southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand for about one hour, Space.com reported.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of energy. Flares and solar eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.
Meanwhile, a scientist at the University College London (UCL) has discovered a giant ‘hole’ on the surface of the Sun.
Daniel Verscharen, Associate Professor of space and climate physics at UCL said the hole is 20 times larger than the Earth, and could result in a geomagnetic storm, reaching our planet at a speed of about 1.8 million miles per hour.
It is likely to hit Earth by Friday, he was quoted as saying to Business Insider.
Earlier this week, the Earth witnessed a geomagnetic storm of magnitude G4, the strongest in nearly six years, causing auroras all over the US, NOAA said.
The storm’s unexpected ferocity not only made auroras visible as far south as New Mexico in the US, but it also forced spaceflight company Rocket Lab to delay a launch by 90 minutes, Space.com reported.
According to scientists, more such solar storms are expected because the Sun is gearing up to a peak of activity, which happens about every 11 years.