17 February 2011
The X class flare was caught by the SDO and it’s expected to kick off a nice geomagnetic storm starting tonight. I am betting on some great pics of the Aurora by tomorrow morning!
The incredible video, of the flash below, is from two spacecraft. The sun itself is from the Solar Dynamics Observatory and the red region around it is from the SOHO spacecraft. The proton blast (headed toward Earth) shows as a quick flash, to the edges of the image.
Last but not least, here is a still shot from the SDO showing the very active sun right now.
An X class flare is strong enough to cause radio blackouts and also in some cases to affect over the Pole air routes (the radiation is much higher there, due to the magnetic field lines around earth). This last flare was X 2.2. and this is the lower end of the X class range. An X5 or X6 could cause power blackouts, and severe satellite problems. It would also require astronauts on the ISS to go to a special shielded area of the station.
More CME‘s are possible, stay tuned!