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IT’S COMING RIGHT AT US!

February 17, 2011 1 comment

Photo Courtesy of NASA

Happy Valentine’s Day, indeed.

The largest solar flare in 4 years erupted on Monday night. It is what as known as an X-class flare. As the name implies, it is a big-time event.

Solar flares are classified based upon the intensity of x-rays emitted between the wavelengths of 1 and 8 Angstroms. (An angstrom is 1 x 10-10 meters).

In order to be an X-class flare, the intensity of the flare must be greater than 10-4 Watts/m2. This flare is an X2 flare, meaning it has an intensity of about 2 x 10-4 Watts/m2.

The flare is sending waves of energetic particles at the Earth, which have already caused radio disruptions in China.

The main event will be coming Today, however. The bulk of the particles will be hitting the Earth’s magnetic field sometime today, possibly causing some intense Aurora’s.

So if you are outside at all this evening, take a quick look up and see if anything is happening. Regions closer to the equator which don’t normally see Aurora’s may just get lucky tonight.

(Bonus points to those who got the ‘Airplane!’ reference in the title of this post)

Update: Phil Plait uploaded a cool video of the flare. Check it out: