Image Credit: c04 j4m3ab0nd

Every now and again, the Sun unleashes a solar flare that makes us a little nervous here on the pale blue dot. We've seen waves ripple across the Sun's surface as the Sun reminds us how powerful it is. We've only been monitoring the Sun closely for a few decades, and even then we've seen some scary stuff.

The first solar flare event was recorded in 1859 and it’s called the Carrington Event. Whereas we didn’t have the technology to classify the flare, it was powerful enough to disrupt telegraph communications, shock telegraph operators, and even ignite telegraph paper due to discharges from the telegraph lines.

In 1989, a flare caused a major blackout in Canada and made life interesting for those on the East Coast of the United States. Even then, according to NASA, this flare wasn’t anywhere near as strong as the Carrington event.

Stronger than the 1989 flare, but not as strong as the Carrington event, we have the Bastille Day Event. In 2000, the sun unleashed a massive X5 flare that caused some of our satellites to short circuit as well as causing some radio blackouts.

In 2003, the sun ‘blew up’ and sent out a storm so powerful it destroyed the satellite observing it. The satellite itself topped out at X28, but NASA analysis later found the flare was probably about an X45. This storm was a member of a series of nine major solar flares put out over a two-week period.

In 2006, an X9 flare was shot towards Earth. This storm also damaged the satellite observing it as well as disrupting global satellite communications and GPS satellites for about 10 minutes.


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