Major X-Class Solar Flare
Earth orbiting satellites have just detected an X1-class solar flare from Earth-facing sunspot AR2887. The blast at 1535 UT on Oct. 28th created a massive tsunami of plasma in the sun's atmosphere:
The blast also hurled a CME into space. Coronagraph images are not yet available, but evidence for a CME is already pursuasive. The USAF reports strong Type II and Type IV radio emissions generated by a CME plowing through the sun's atmosphere. In addition, energetic particles accelerated at the leading edge of a CME have already reached Earth.
When will the CME itself arrive? Assuming that it is Earth directed, probably on Oct. 30th or 31st. Fresh data from SOHO coronagraphs will allow a more precise forecast, so stay tuned.
During the flare, a pulse of X-rays and extreme UV radiation ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a strong shortwave radio blackout centered on South America:
Aviators, mariners, and ham radio operators on the daylit side of Earth may have noticed strange propagation effects at frequencies below 30 MHz.
Sunspot AR2887 may not be finished yet. It has already produced two M-class flares and an X-flare today. The active region is directly facing Earth, so any additional eruptions should be geoeffective. Solar flare alerts: SMS Text.
more images: from Pepe Manteca of Begues, Barcelona, Spain; from Roucheux Philippe of Joigny, Burgundy, France; from Ofer Gabzo of the Givatayim Observatory, Israel;