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Space

Large Solar Flare To Glance Off Earth 154

Posted by samzenpus
from the raise-shields dept.
JoeRobe writes "According to spaceweather.com, a major X5 solar flare is on its way to deliver a glancing blow to the Earth's magnetic field. This is the second x-class flare to be released by the same sunspot in the past few days, the first being an X1. In both cases, the sunspot (spot 1429) was not directly facing Earth, but it is still active, and poses a threat for a large, Earth-directed flare in the next few days."
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Large Solar Flare To Glance Off Earth

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  • by masteva (996554) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:03PM (#39278857)
    So we may finally get some actual X-Men out of this???
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Obviously this is Samsung's initial attempt to destroy the iPad3

  • by hguorbray (967940) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:06PM (#39278911)
    someone on the sun is shooting at us!

    -I'm just sayin'
    • by g0bshiTe (596213)
      That's no sun... oh wait never mind.
    • Probably terrorists. We should pass some laws to arrest them without evidence or even a trial.
      • by formfeed (703859)

        Probably terrorists. We should pass some laws to arrest them without evidence or even a trial.

        Probably just anonymous using the sun to take down the satellite network.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      someone on the sun is shooting at us!

      -I'm just sayin'

      How soon until US is at war with the sun?

    • by mjwx (966435)

      someone on the sun is shooting at us!

      -I'm just sayin'

      All yours buddy,

      I'm too busy dealing with the guy with a hand cannon on the dell.

    • Shoot the TSA into it. Tell them they get to frisk the sun.
  • Good news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by symes (835608) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:08PM (#39278941) Journal

    All the cost and possible misery to one side, a big cosmic event like this could do a lot of good. It might just reinvigorate general public's interest in the cosmos. Just seems a bit too quiet these days.

    • by g0bshiTe (596213)

      All the cost and possible misery to one side,

      of the freakin planet.

      I finished that for you.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Maybe if it just took out satellites carrying television signals?
        THAT would wake people up.

      • by EdIII (1114411)

        If it's the side of the planet hosting the brain-drain apps and content like Facebook and much of reality teevee, people will be more concerned about that then a nuclear armed Iran.

        People don't care about higher level problems like asteroids or the environment. Take away the bread and circuses.....

  • So it's like getting grazed by 12 Guage Buck Shot
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:10PM (#39278987)

    (concerned)

    ;-)

  • Scenario (Score:5, Funny)

    by echogen (1166581) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:11PM (#39279009) Homepage
    possible scenario:
    1- Apple applies for a patent regarding magnetic interference.
    2- USPTO grants patent to apple
    3- Solar flare
    4- Apple suing the sun in Germany!
    5- Court prohibits the sun from sending magnetic flares to Germany
  • by Kozar_The_Malignant (738483) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:13PM (#39279043)
    Is it paranoid to think that these first two might be a couple of ranging shots?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Is it paranoid to think that these first two might be a couple of ranging shots?

      Yes, yes it is paranoid to think that.

      • Right. The sun isn't that sloppy. If it was concerned enough about the midges on dirtspeck 3, we'd have been melted with loving concern long ago.

        And how do you *know* the sun isn't sentient? Just askin'

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Could a solar flare affect an asteroid's orbit, like 2012 da14 which they swear will miss us.

    • Yes, very, very slightly, as could any of the numerous flares and other changes in solar emissions that will occur between now and 2040. That is one of the reasons why the asteroid's future path is uncertain.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Yes..but not much. More important is the debris that gets spewed out with a solar flare.

  • by nani popoki (594111) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:14PM (#39279065) Homepage

    1. Don't be too concerned. This is more an issue for astronauts (minor inconvenience) and satellites (possible software outages), unless you live at high latitudes, in which case auroras are cool!

    2. X5 is strong but not catastrophic -- this might affect shortwave reception but it's not going to take down the power grid.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      X5 is strong but not catastrophic -- this might affect shortwave reception but it's not going to take down the power grid.

      Actually, you're right AND wrong.

      On the X scale, X1 is least and X5 is worst. However, an X5 corresponds to something like a 30mT change in 3 hours of Earth's magnetic field.

      The problem is, X5 is where it stops. Storms of intensity of 300mT/sec have been recorded, and they too would be marked as an X5 (I believe that was the 187x "big one"). The Quebec one was of lower magnitude, but sti

    • And I have to scroll down 3/4 the way to find actual, intellectual, on-topic discussion.

      Thank you, nani popoki, for getting the ball rolling.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A scientific story with no editorializing in TFS and links to the source so I don't have to click through blogspam?

    What site am I on?

  • All I ever really want to know when I see something like this is, "Will there be some Auroras where I am?"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      In the basement? I sure hope not.

    • by JoeRobe (207552)

      At the lower left of the spaceweather.com site, there's a little chart that tells you the chances of high-latitude and mid-latitude geomagnetic storms over the next 1 and 2 days.

      • by X0563511 (793323)

        Note the "High" and "Mid" qualifiers on latitude. Aurora is simply not something you see in the equatorial/tropical region.

        So, if that's where MSesow happens to live, then he's shit out of luck.

        • by JoeRobe (207552)

          That's true, which is why I said "mid-latitude and high-latitude" in my original post. I'm aware of the possibility that MSesow lives in an equatorial region, but in case he/she lives in a mid- or high-latitude region, these charts may be useful.

          • by X0563511 (793323)

            Wasn't directed at you. Was more for MSesow and for anyone else who came along, but it made sense to position it as a reply (to me at least). You know, a "note" like a footnote :P

            I know you knew what you were talking about.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:32PM (#39279385)

    The moon never pulls shit like this.

        from The Onion

  • by Thud457 (234763) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:32PM (#39279391) Homepage Journal
    This overly drawn-out Republican primaries anger the Sun God.
  • Dude! I got my board and my photon sail. I'm hangin' TEN! Er, uh, X5! Gnarly dude.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    check it out here.
    http://iswa.gsfc.nasa.gov/downloads/20120307_014400_anim.tim-den.gif

  • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:45PM (#39279583) Homepage

    The flare travels at the speed of light ... so we've already been hit by it. The CME [wikipedia.org] is what's going to come tomorrow morning (or tonight, depending on your time zone)

    And the "spot number" as this article called it is actually NOAA Active Region #11429. I'm sick of this modulo 10000 value -- AR1429 was decades ago. (the list I'm looking at starts at AR6777, which was in August 1991)

    I'll leave it for some other time to rant about the difference between 'sunspot number' (a subjective number to describe the amount of spot coverage on the sun in the visible spectrum which goes back centuries) vs. 'active region number' (a NOAA index of spots seen in x-ray)

    • by JoeRobe (207552)

      You're totally right, my bad. I should have said the CME from the flare will deliver a glancing blow to the planet. I didn't know that bit about the AR1429 vs. AR11429, very interesting. Is that something that NOAA has started doing, or is it just spaceweather.com? (I didn't call it "spot number", I just called it "spot 1429". Should have said "AR11429".)

      • by oneiros27 (46144)

        They've been doing it since AR#9999, which was in June 2002.

        And it's NOAA's doing -- they have a number of different formats they use for distributing information, but they're all fixed-width ASCII files, and very few of them actually use the 5-digit forms. To the best of my knowledge, all of the 'space weather' related products use the 4-digit values, but it's most obvious on the SPE catalog, as that's over a longer period:

        http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/latest/SRS.txt [noaa.gov]
        http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/lates [noaa.gov]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Great, now we have to deal with Astronomy Nazis...

  • by pahles (701275)
    It's a CME (Coronal Mass Ejection) heading our way, not a flare. A CME is a result of this flare.
  • Why does it seem I am the only one that is concerned about what's going to happen when one of these flares whacks the power grid in the Northeast U.S.? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 [wikipedia.org] Oh, that's right - the US Gov't is real concerned too. - http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2009/21jan_severespaceweather/ [nasa.gov] So here's what really concerns me - say, the entire Northeast grid goes down. There are a number of nuclear plants that have cooling pools for spent fuel rods, just l
    • by networkBoy (774728) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @05:23PM (#39280219) Homepage Journal

      Because in the case of grid failure they will run on diesel generators.
      Which are off and relatively safe until the grid blows, which is after the CME is passed, then they start (even if a delay of manual starting is required, no worries). And in this case there is not a wall of seawater to drown the gennes.
      -nB

    • by geekoid (135745)

      In order for it to be an issue, you will need a tidal wave to damage/remove the back up generators.

      So, to answer your question, nothing. On the plus side, they will allows to start restoring electricity very quickly.

    • by JoeRobe (207552)

      The Northeast grid has gone down [wikipedia.org] before, and there were no meltdowns. As other folks have pointed out, those things have backup generators. I assume that in the blackout of 2003, those generators kicked on.

  • by RossR (94714) on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @04:57PM (#39279801)

    NOAA forecast model of aurora activity and visibility

    http://helios.swpc.noaa.gov/ovation/ [noaa.gov]

    If the little red line is south of your location, you might see something (assuming northern hemisphere). So far no love for the lower 48.

    • by green1 (322787)

      I really enjoyed the northern lights here in Canada last night, watched them from the comfort of my backyard hot-tub. I've certainly seen them before, but I don't think I've ever seen them from inside the city before, usually the light polution overpowers them, these were quite vivid!

  • by rueger (210566) * on Wednesday March 07, 2012 @10:02PM (#39283153) Homepage
    You can't make this shit [google.com] up:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Earth's magnetic field is about to be shaken like a snow globe by the largest solar storm in five years. After hurtling through space for a day and a half, a massive cloud of charged particles is due to arrive early Thursday and could disrupt utility grids, airline flights, satellite networks and GPS services, especially in northern areas.

    Sky, meet Chicken Little.

  • How big/powerful would a solar flare have to be before it became a concern for humans? I mean above not being able to watch America's Next Top [contest-name]tard.

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