In just the past week, our beloved and life-sustaining sun, has fired off no fewer than 28 medium strength M-class solar flares and four significantly stronger X-class flares, all originating from a particularly active sunspot astronomers have identified as AR-1884.
Given that we’re currently experiencing what’s known as the “solar maximum” – a regular 11 year peak in solar flare activity – these flares aren’t quite as surprising as they might otherwise seem – but for the fact that the massive radiation eruptions occurred within such a relatively short time-frame.
Thankfully, despite the reality that solar storms are indeed capable of wreaking havoc with power grids (e.g., the 1989 “Quebec Incident” that shut down the entire Canadian province’s electrical system in under two minutes), due to the trajectory and significantly weaker strength of the current blasts, this week’s events failed to impact the Earth or its numerous and especially vulnerable high altitude communications satellites. Per the above video, however, it most certainly did make for an impressive show – and a warning that next time we might not get so lucky. After all, 11 years from now, our planet will almost certainly be significantly more reliant on electrical and other radiation-sensitive systems – any of which could incur severe long-term damage if directly exposed to large-scale solar activity.
Sadly, as a species, it’s also fair to say that planning for these types of events isn’t exactly our strong suit . . . So here’s hoping the sun decides to play nice.