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Space Science

Sun Unleashes Most Powerful Flare Since 2006 100

astroengine writes "Early Tuesday morning, the Sun unleashed a powerful X-class flare. The X7 flare is the most energetic explosion to come from the Sun since December 2006. Although the flare was directed away from the Earth, a minor proton storm was detected and some radio communications have been disrupted due to higher-than-normal rates of ionization in the Earth's ionosphere. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the whole event, imaging the flaring site and multi-million degree post-flare plasma."
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Sun Unleashes Most Powerful Flare Since 2006

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  • Wrong Sun (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    When I first read the headline, my thought was "Wow, I didn't know Sun even had a server line called Flare".

  • If the flare had been directed towards the earth, what would have happened?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SIR_Taco ( 467460 )

      Oracle would have snatched it up

    • If the flare had been directed towards the earth, what would have happened?

      Communications problems today. Increased incidents of skin cancer next year.

      • Increased incidents of skin cancer next year

        Not for those of us who live in Mom's basement, thank you very much.
      • by tedgyz ( 515156 ) *

        If the flare had been directed towards the earth, what would have happened?

        Communications problems today. Increased incidents of skin cancer next year.

        Refer to GP comment about Oracle.

      • Communications problems today. Increased incidents of skin cancer next year.

        As low-frequency F-layer skip is disturbed, some may enjoy sporadic E-layer skip activity. That sometimes allows people to pick up VHF television (especially channels 2-6) and FM radio stations (lower end of band) from 1000 miles or so away away. Those in less congested areas have a better chance of hearing something. Although signals sometimes get pretty strong, it is helpful to use a directional antenna pointed away from the local signals. It's a daytime thing.

    • Nothing unless it is the end of October or 2012. Then still my bets are nothing will happen then either.

      Heck I am willing to bet all my earthly possessions that the world will not end in my lifetime.

      • Well to answer that you would have to answer a question for me...do you plan to be alive in 2036? Because we will be having a visit from 99942 Apophis [wikipedia.org] in 2029 and whether or not people in 2036 are gonna be having a REALLY bad day in August will depend on how close it goes to the "keyhole" because if it goes through the center of the keyhole our gravity will pull it enough to cause it to slam into us in 2036 if we don't stop it.

        For more information see these these [youtube.com] two videos [youtube.com] by Neil Degrasse Tyson.

        • Either Way, the process of the world ending will probably kill me before the world actually ends.

      • Hey, if you're wrong, what do you have to lose?
    • Some probability of radiation damage to the ISS, including the inhabitants.
    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      If the flare had been directed towards the earth, what would have happened?

      VHF ham radio guys all call in sick tomorrow to bounce signals off the aurora. Seriously. Every time there's a huge auroral display there is a distinct lack of ham radio callsign license plates in the parking lot.... Its like the worlds largest physics experiment, lotsa fun.

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Obama would have blamed it.
    • If the flare had been directed towards the earth, what would have happened?

      A better question; what if this X-WHATEVER FLARE! (X 28) [nasa.gov] flare from November 2003 was pointed towards us?

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:27PM (#37036156)

    The moon never pulls shit like this.

    (Apologies to The Onion - kind of sad when that site beats SlashDot to news like this.)

    • This has been all over Slashdot, all over the rest of the media since it was detected. It's weird. It didn't do very much and it was apparent within 24 hours that it didn't do all that much yet it got impressively hyped. At the same time, London is trying to deal with the worst riots in a couple of decades, Syria is launching tank attacks at it's population, Wall Street is in free fall - so it's not like it is a slow news day.

      What a bunch of Drama Queens.

      Armageddon much?

      • by deains ( 1726012 )
        When the Earth falls to dust, we humans look to the stars. Or something like that.
      • I feel for the citizens in London. The are desperately awaiting the baseball bats they ordered from Amazon (not kidding), it's the only means they have to defend themselves..
        • by Anonymous Coward
          Yep. I got caught in the middle of it in Lewisham, had to dodge a few rocks and got out by the skin of my teeth, and today, there was a stabbing right out the front of my place in Greenwich. I'm hearing of similar mallarky from friends around London.

          I wish I had a nice handgun or SMG this evening to protect my family. Unfortunately, only the thugs have such tools over here in the UK, and the police are too hamstrung to do a darn thing about it.
      • The DOW gained 400 pts today. It's only down 200 from opening yesterday.

        • by celle ( 906675 )

          "...It's only down 200 from opening yesterday."

          It's only down 700 points from opening Thursday.

          Fixed that for you.

      • At the same time, London is trying to deal with the worst riots in a couple of decades, Syria is launching tank attacks at it's population,

        Yeah, that sun flare radiation makes aggressive.

        Wall Street is in free fall

        Those sun flares make the brokers nervous.

    • by laejoh ( 648921 )
      That's why the people were saying "That's no moon" when they saw the flares!
    • When Sol was asked its opinion about the US debt crisis, London riots, the Syrian crackdown, and worldwide market setbacks, it replied, "Pppppbbbbbbbbbbtttttttt! ... Crap, missed again!"

    • by GPS Pilot ( 3683 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @07:47PM (#37038726)

      Our sensitive microelectronics is very vulnerable to being wrecked by electromagnetic pulses, whether natural or set off by human enemies.

      Regarding the huge "Carrington Event" solar flare of September 1, 1859, NASA reports that "Spark discharges shocked telegraph operators and set the telegraph paper on fire." The Engineer [theengineer.co.uk] goes further and says, "The Carrington Storm caused fires and electrocuted workers at telegraph stations".

  • Sun? (Score:4, Funny)

    by the_humeister ( 922869 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:27PM (#37036160)

    Since Oracle bought Sun, perhaps the title should be "Oracle Unleashes Most Powerful Flare Since 2006." Damn you Oracle!!!!

  • ORACLE Unleashes Most Powerful Flare Since 2006. Jeez, editors....
  • I read the headline, and I'm like "Flare", Sun never had a server called Flare. Fire, sure, did they typo that, or what?

    Then I open it to see this is about The Sun Unleashing Most Powerful Solar Flare Since 2006. There, a much more useful headline. That wasn't hard, was it?

    There's a reason why I read ./ less every day...

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      I read the headline, and I'm like "Flare", Sun never had a server called Flare.

      Sun, they were bought by Oracle, PHB heaven. PHBs and flare go together. You know, flare, like your uniform needs to have 31 pieces of flare on it. Didn't you ever see the movie office space?

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Talderas ( 1212466 )

        Unfortunately you need 31 pieces of flair.

        However if you would like to experience the purifying flames of 31 flares I believe we can work that out. Good luck on experiencing all 31.

  • We need to do more preparations for serious solar flares coming directly at Earth. Electronics are a lot more common now than they used to be. We're somewhat lucky in that we haven't had any really awful flares since the 19th century where some of them were bad enough to actually damage telegraph systems. Now electronics are far more ubiquitous and use much less power so are potentially far more easily damaged. A serious flare could do severe damage to the power grid as well as disable or destroy a lot of

    • by vlm ( 69642 )

      Unfortunately, utility companies have no incentive to prepare because the events are rare and they won't be held liable if things get really bad.

      And any individual utility will be brutally punished by the market investors unless all the utilities increase preparations in concert. Don't worry, strong govt regulation will require that... oh wait.

      Seriously though, unlike an EMP, you generally get a lot of warning and the flares generally don't last long. Even if you get caught, unlike EMP they ramp up slowly enough to make a controlled shutdown possible. If you get a truly amazing flare, you just shut down the grid and initiate full black start capa

      • I did not realize that 8 minutes was a long time to prepare for a full grid shutdown.

        • by Zenaku ( 821866 )

          8 minutes is how long it takes *light* from the sun to reach us. A solar flare takes considerably longer, on the order of a couple days.

          Think about it. If the flare itself traveled at the speed of light, we wouldn't even know it had happened until it hit us.

          • Fortunately, charged particles (the stuff you worry about in a solar flare) travel slower than the speed of light.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        That is why there are plants, most of them hydro, that exist for these reasons. http://wiki.colby.edu/display/es398b/History+of+Harris is one reference to this ability. Harris station comes online, feeding the new england grid, allowing the nukes and oil burners to come back online.

        As a side note, the plants don't have to go down. They DO have to disconnect from those hundred mile long antennas they have attached to their sub stations.

        I've got more to say, but posting without an account, I doubt I'll be

      • with diesel electric locomotives!

    • Luckily the GPS sats are mil spec so they are pretty hardened (primarily due to the threat of atmospheric nuke detonations).

      The GPS birds are 12,645 miles up. From that distance the difference between an atmospheric detonation and a surface one is just about nil.

      I can't comment on the rest of your post, but if it is as poorly backed as that comment your fears are largely unwarranted.

      • No, that's just due to me being stupid in writing. Substitute "space" for atmospheric. The whole issue is the EMP from space based nukes. And er yeah, obviously I need to use preview a hell of a lot more.
        • Maybe LEO, but the distance between any two birds in an orbit that high necessitates either one hell of a big bomb or so many nukes one might as well do a direct hit and invalidate the whole shielding bit.

          I am unaware of any unique shielding on the GPS birds and can't fathom a viable threat against them. Perhaps there is something in the literature I've missed. I'll ask at work tomorrow.

  • Wiy shogld I be wnrried about tris one solar flarw?
  • SEE? (Score:5, Funny)

    by SmurfButcher Bob ( 313810 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:41PM (#37036326) Journal

    And if we don't stop global warming NOW, those flares will only get worse!

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      Heh, it's not like this hasn't been tried. All you have to do is look up your local religious organization - "send us your money and God will stop doing bad things to you".
    • We need to set up lots more Solar panels to try soak up as much energy as possible, to prevent further flares.

  • yeah but (Score:5, Funny)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Tuesday August 09, 2011 @03:41PM (#37036330) Homepage
    is flare going to be covered by my Oracle service contract?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by baegucb ( 18706 )

      Eventually. But first Oracle will call back 3 times, confirming your address and phone number. That way they get to reset the clock on response time, and give to their execs a report saying they meet response times per SLAs.

  • Is this what set Obama's Vineyard on fire?
  • B.O.F.H. Excuse of the day: Solar Flares.
  • Hmmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 )

    /. poster claim there aren't enough science stories.

    Wild science story appear
    slahdotters post the same damn Oracle joke.

  • Taking wagers on how long until Oracle extinguishes this new Sun power and makes it irrelevant?
  • I didn't know the Java 7 r1 bug/flare was that powerful...

Disks travel in packs.