02/15/2011 by Kevin VE3EN at 02:20
"UPDATE - This was rated an "X2.2 Major Solar Flare" - The sun showed some love on Valentines Day. Massive Sunspot 1158 has produced a major X2.2 Class Solar Flare at 01:56 UTC Tuesday. This is the largest Solar Flare of Cycle 24 and a CME could be associated with this event. A strong R3 Radio Blackout has taken place as well. More to follow."
X-class flares are described here:
"Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth."
Australia is already experiencing some effects. There are reports of down internet and the radio disruptions as mentioned above. It generally takes 48 hours for flares to hit us so we will see what happened, if anything, over the next few days. The X-flare was earth-directed, however, so there will be some effects.
From WOOD-TV, Grand Rapids MI:
Thanks to Jay for pointing out that we now have an X-class solar flare. Check out this picture of any aurora from up by the Arctic Circle in Norway tonight. Here’s more and more here. X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. According to NASA, this is the biggest solar flare so far from this solar cycle. We’ve had reports that the flare produced a blast of radio emissions heard in shortwave receivers around the dayside of Earth.