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Massive solar flare: CESSI warns of impact on satellite communications, GPS

Massive solar flare: CESSI warns of impact on satellite communications, GPS
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New Delhi: The sun unleashed a massive solar flare on Wednesday, with the potential to impact satellite communications and global positioning systems, the Centre of Excellence in Space Sciences India (CESSI) said.
“The X2.2 class solar flare eruption took place at 3:57 UTC (9.27 IST) from the solar magnetic active region AR12992,” Dibyendu Nandi, Professor and Head of CESSI at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research in Kolkata, told PTI.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of energy that can impact radio communications, electric power grids and navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.
This flare is classified as “X-class”, which denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength.
“Blackout of satellites is proprietary information and is unlikely to be made public,” Nandi said.
“Strong ionospheric perturbation is ongoing over India, South East Asia and the Asia-Pacific regions. Expected high frequency communication blackouts, satellite anomalies, GPS scintillations, airline communication impacts,” the CESSI said on Twitter.
Nandi said the impact of a solar flare is almost immediate as it releases extremely high-energy photons that travel at the speed of light and affect the sunlit portion of the earth.
He said since not much can be done after the eruption of a solar flare, it is important to predict it, a task the CESSI has been undertaking with the help of students.
Nandi said the CESSI had predicted the eruption of an “X-class” flare on April 18.
The Space Weather Prediction Centre of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the strong flare was associated with multiple bursts on specific radio frequencies to include a burst of 509 solar flux units on 2,695 MHz.
“Additionally, a Type II radio sweep was detected by the USAF Radio Solar Telescope Network (RSTN), with an estimated velocity of 1,630 kilometres per second,” it said.
According to the US-based National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the biggest flares are known as “X-class flares” based on a classification system that divides solar flares according to their strength.
The smallest ones are “A-class” (near background levels), followed by “B”, “C”, “M” and “X”, it said.
According to the NASA, similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. An “X-class” flare is 10 times an “M-class” eruption and 100 times a “C-class” flare.


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