Multiple solar flares explode sparking blackouts on Earth is a terrifying solar storm coming?

18 Sept 2023

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation that erupt from the sun’s surface. They can affect our planet in various ways, from disrupting radio communications to causing geomagnetic storms that can damage power grids. But how often do these solar flares occur, and what are the chances of a major solar storm hitting Earth in the near future? In this article, we will explore some of the latest research and news on solar flares and solar storms, and what they mean for us.

Image - Coronal Mass Ejection on the Sun on August 31, 2012

What are solar flares and solar storms?

Solar flares are sudden flashes of intense light and energy that are released from the sun’s atmosphere. They are caused by the twisting and breaking of magnetic field lines on the sun’s surface, which release huge amounts of stored energy. Solar flares can last from a few seconds to several minutes, and they can emit radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to x-rays.

Solar storms are the result of solar flares interacting with the solar wind, a stream of charged particles that flows away from the sun. When a solar flare occurs, it can accelerate some of these particles to very high speeds and hurl them into space. These particles are called coronal mass ejections (CMEs), and they can carry up to 10 billion tons of plasma. CMEs can travel at speeds ranging from 250 to 3000 kilometers per second, depending on the strength of the flare.

Image - Illustration of a coronal mass ejection impacting the Earth's atmosphere.

When a CME reaches Earth, it can collide with our planet’s magnetic field and cause disturbances in the ionosphere, a layer of the atmosphere that contains electrically charged particles. These disturbances can affect radio signals, GPS navigation, satellite operations, and power transmission. They can also create beautiful auroras in the polar regions, as the charged particles interact with the molecules in the air and produce colorful lights.

How often do solar flares and solar storms happen?

Solar flares and solar storms are not random events. They are influenced by the sun’s 11-year cycle of magnetic activity, which is also known as the solar cycle. The solar cycle has phases of high and low activity, called solar maximum and solar minimum. During solar maximum, the sun has more sunspots, which are dark areas on the sun’s surface where magnetic fields are concentrated. Sunspots are often the source of solar flares and CMEs. During solar minimum, the sun has fewer sunspots and less flare activity.

The current solar cycle, called Solar Cycle 25, began in December 2019 and is expected to reach its peak around 2025. According to NASA, Solar Cycle 25 is predicted to be a fairly weak cycle, similar to Solar Cycle 24, which ended in 2019. However, this does not mean that there will be no significant solar flares or storms during this cycle. In fact, some of the most powerful flares in history have occurred during weak cycles.

For example, in July 2012, a massive CME erupted from the sun and narrowly missed Earth. If it had hit us, it could have caused widespread blackouts and damage to electrical systems. This event was comparable to the Carrington Event of 1859, which is considered to be the most severe solar storm ever recorded. The Carrington Event caused telegraph wires to spark and catch fire, and auroras were seen as far south as Cuba and Hawaii.

What are the recent news and research on solar flares and solar storms?

In September 2021, multiple solar flares exploded from the sun and sparked radio blackouts on Earth. According to, four M-class flares erupted from a large sunspot group called AR2871 between September 6 and 8. M-class flares are medium-sized flares that can cause brief radio blackouts around the poles and minor geomagnetic storms. The strongest flare was an M5.5 flare that occurred on September 8 at 13:35 UTC. It caused a strong radio blackout over South America and parts of Africa.

The same sunspot group also produced two CMEs that were directed toward Earth. The first one arrived on September 9 and caused a minor G1-class geomagnetic storm. The second one arrived on September 10 and caused a moderate G2-class geomagnetic storm. Geomagnetic storms are ranked on a scale from G1 to G5, with G5 being the most severe. G1 storms can cause weak power grid fluctuations and minor impacts on satellite operations. G2 storms can cause voltage alarms in power systems and increased drag on low-Earth orbit satellites.

These recent events show that even though we are in a relatively quiet phase of the solar cycle, we still need to be prepared for potential impacts of solar flares and storms on our technology and infrastructure. Scientists are constantly monitoring the sun’s activity and developing models to predict its behavior. One of the tools they use is NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a satellite that observes the sun in high resolution and multiple wavelengths. SDO can capture images and data of solar flares and CMEs as they happen, and help scientists understand their causes and effects11.


Solar flares and solar storms are fascinating phenomena that reveal the dynamic nature of our star. They can also pose risks to our society, especially as we become more dependent on technology and electricity. Therefore, it is important to study them and learn how to mitigate their impacts. By doing so, we can also appreciate the beauty and wonder of our sun and its influence on our planet.

😒What do you think about solar flares and solar storms? Have you ever seen an aurora or experienced a radio blackout? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!👇

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