October 20, 1989 |
A major solar flare on the sun Thursday hurled a surge of radiation toward the Earth that may disrupt communications and electrical power transmission over the next two days, government scientists said. Norman Cohen, a geophysical forecaster at the Space Environment Services Center run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Boulder, Colo., said he was sending alerts to electrical utilities in Canada and in the northern United States to expect possible power surges.
November 8, 2003 |
A solar flare that burst out of the sun Tuesday was the largest on record. The two previous most powerful flares, from 1989 and 2001, were rated at X-20 on the scale used by solar astronomers. Tuesday's event was at least an X-28 and could be revised upward. The flare was so powerful it "blinded" the satellite used to measure it for 11 minutes. The flare caused few problems on Earth because it was directed away from the planet and hit only with a glancing blow.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
September 25, 1989 |
The sharpest pictures ever of flares on the surface of the sun have been obtained by astrophysicist Leo Golub of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory using an X-ray telescope fired by rocket to a height of 150 miles above the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico. The telescope took 40 pictures of the sun during a five-minute period of intense solar disturbances before being parachuted to the ground.
October 22, 1989 |
The space shuttle Atlantis is now scheduled to cut its five-day mission short by 1 1/2 hours Monday because high afternoon winds are forecast at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, space agency officials said Saturday. The new plan is to land one orbit earlier, at 11:08 a.m. PDT instead of 12:43 p.m., because the winds are expected to be lighter earlier in the day.
July 15, 2000 |
A magnetic storm that could disrupt radio transmissions and satellites--and also produce colorful northern lights--is expected to strike the Earth today and could last until Monday. The massive sunspot eruption took place early Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported. "The storm is expected to reach strong to severe levels, which can adversely affect satellite operations and power grids," reported the agency.
October 31, 2003 |
A second huge magnetic storm caused by a solar flare hit Earth on Thursday, just a day after an earlier one hurtled into the planet in what one astronomer called an unprecedented one-two punch. "It's like the Earth is looking right down the barrel of a giant gun pointed at us by the sun ... and it's taken two big shots at us," said John Kohl of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts.
November 12, 2001
Sunspots act like planet-sized hurricanes that suck in materials from below the sun's surface as fast as they spit it out above the surface, allowing the spots to persist for long periods of time. Astronomers have long known that blockages in the magnetic field below the sun's surface allow solar gases to cool, forming darker spots, but it was not clear why they persisted.
March 7, 2006 |
The next sunspot cycle will be a year late and as much as 50% stronger than the last one, according to a forecast released Monday by scientists from NASA and the National Science Foundation. Such predictions are vital because the solar storms associated with the sunspots not only endanger humans in space, but can slow satellites in orbit, disrupt communications, interfere with Global Positioning Systems and bring down power grids.
CALIFORNIA | LOCAL
February 1, 1987 |
Huge chunks of ancient rock uncovered by scientists in Australia may help explain sunspot cycles and changes in Earth's atmosphere during the ages preceding the reign of the dinosaurs. Sunspots are the dark, irregularly shaped blotches on the sun's surface that appear in recurrent cycles and are caused by solar magnetic storms.