March 29, 2024: This is becoming routine. The sun just produced another X-class solar flare, the 7th of 2023. The X1.2-category explosion came from sunspot AR3256 near the sun’s southwestern limb:
Radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth’s atmosphere, causing a strong shortwave radio blackout over southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Ham radio operators may have noticed loss of signal and other propagation effects below 30 MHz for as much as an hour after the peak of the flare (March 29th @ 0233 UT).
A faint CME left the sun after the explosion. NOAA analysts have determined that it will miss Earth–no impact.
The real significance of this flare may be the number “7.” That’s the total number of X-flares in all of 2022. With today’s flare, the sun has already matched that total in 2023–and it’s only March.
This is yet another sign that Solar Cycle 25 is rapidly intensifying. If the trend continues, we could have nearly 30 X-flares by the end of 2023, an order-of-magnitude greater activity than only two years ago. Official forecasts are calling for Solar Maximum to arrive in 2024 or 2025. If so, there is plenty of time for the solar cycle to intensify even more; X-flares could become routine, indeed. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text.
This story was brought to you by Spaceweather.com