Sunspot AR3354 Explodes: Blackout Hits!

4th Jul 2023
Sunspot AR3354 Explodes: Blackout Hits!

Yesterday, on the 2nd of July, at 23.08 UTC, the giant sunspot AR3354 exploded, resulting in a long-duration X1-class solar flare. 

The extreme ultraviolet flash was recorded by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

The top of Earth’s atmosphere was ionised due to the radiation from the flare. This resulted in a deep shortwave radio blackout across western parts of the United States and the Pacific Ocean. 

Ham radio operators and mariners may have noticed propagation effects for 30+ minutes after the flare, including a loss of signal. 

Sunspot AR 3354 one-third of the Carrington sunspot in area

At the beginning of last week, sunspot AR3354 didn’t even exist. However, as the days went on, it got bigger and bigger. Come Thursday, it was 10 times wider than the Earth and wasn’t finished growing. 

Enthusiasts have been eagerly keeping a watch of this ‘naked eye’ sunspot, eagerly anticipating what would happen as it came to a crescendo on Sunday. 

With the sunspot reaching a size of more than one-third of the history-making Carrington sunspot, AR3354 had ann unstable ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field that was poised to wreak havoc on electrical devices on Earth.

Moreover, the threat of the resulting X-class solar flare was very real due to the sunspot’s position. The eruption that occurred was geoeffective due to the sunspot facing the Earth directly. 

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