DOUBLE X-FLARE: Forecasters expected an X-flare today, and the sun complied. The source, however, was unexpected. A new sunspot (AR2087) suddenly emerging from behind the sun’s southeastern limb erupted twice, producing an X2.2-flare at 11:42 UT and an X1.5-flare at 12:52. This extreme ultraviolet image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the first blast:
X-rays and UV radiation from the double flare created a wave of ionization in Earth’s upper atmosphere, altering the normal propagation of radio transmissions over Europe. Rob Stammes recorded the sudden ionospheric disturbance (SID) from his laboratory in Lofoton, Norway: data. Preliminary coronagraph images from NASA’s STEREO probes show a bright CME emerging from the blast site, traveling mostly away from the sun-Earth line. No strong impacts are expected.
Before today’s double-eruption, forecasters had been keeping a wary eye on sunspot complex AR2080/AR2085. Almost directly-facing Earth, those two sunspots have ‘delta-class’ magnetic fields that harbor energy for X-flares. The emergence of sunspot AR2087 on the southeastern limb adds another potent source to the mix. Solar activity is high, and likely to remain so in the days ahead