A gigantic solar flare has just erupted on the other side of the Sun


This spectacular event could be observed up close thanks to the Solar Orbiter, which was passing by at that precise moment. On September 5th, astronomers caught the Sun in the midst of a coronal mass ejection (CME). An observation that, in normal times, is not unusual, knowing that such events multiply as the star approaches its peak activity, expected in 2025. But this event was still remarkable for many reasons, and researchers are already rubbing their hands. EMCs are bubbles of plasma that are catapulted at high speed by solar flares. If they head towards Earth, they can have very specific consequences that depend directly on their intensity. Weaker ones will have no measurable consequences. The most powerful ones, on the other hand, could cause unprecedented chaos on Earth by instantly destroying much of the systems that run on electricity. And it just so happens that this CME was absolutely gigantic. “I can safely say that the September 6 event was one of the largest (if not THE largest) particle storm we’ve seen since the launch of the Solar Orbiter in 2020,” says George Ho. heliophysics interviewed by SpaceWeather. It was so intense that it emerged in a form called a “full halo.” CMEs generally travel in a specific direction. But in this case, astronomers were able to observe that, in addition to the main CME, the shock from the Sun also ejected a wave of superheated gas around the star. © Dominic Cantin via Spaceweather Solar Orbiter was in the right place at the right time Fortunately for us, Earth was not in sight; the main ejection even started on the other side of the Sun, precisely opposite our planet. Good news for the power grid…but also for researchers who were able to benefit from a happy combination of circumstances. In fact, if the Blue Planet escaped this CME, this is not the case for Venus; the hottest planet in the solar system was passing by and was hit head-on. However, it turns out that the Solar Orbiter was also stopping in the region at that precise moment; it had just completed an orbital maneuver near Venus to adjust its trajectory with respect to the Sun. This probe dedicated to the exploration of our star, operated jointly by ESA and NASA, was therefore in the front row; was able to observe this gigantic CME on the other side of our star, which by definition is extremely difficult. SOLAR DISC: AR3088 stays alive, expelling light and matter on its journey around the Sun. It’s still putting on an amazing show even out of our sight. Here’s a look at the region for 2.5 days ending with its large M2 blast directed away from us. SDO 171/193/131 🧐🙀🤩😆👋 pic.twitter.com/lXGiUQC3Os — Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) August 31, 2022 A taste of the Sun’s future whims Dr. Alex Young, NASA heliophysicist, shared the impressive images collected by the probe. We see a gigantic solar prominence, this loop-like structure formed by plasma channeled by intense magnetic field perturbations. It is difficult to appreciate the incredible size of these images; these beautiful swirls measure several thousand kilometers and are much larger than our planet. For the researchers, it was, if anything, a real boon. Thanks to the presence of the Solar Orbiter, they were able to collect a large amount of data that already promises to advance the knowledge of these eminently complex phenomena. “It’s not an event like the others,” rejoices George Ho. “Many scientific articles will study it over the next few years,” he assures us. And this is probably just the beginning; remember that the Sun will reach the peak of its 11-year cycle of activity in 2025. So there’s a good chance it will throw increasingly spectacular rages by then. Heliophysicists, then, can crack the popcorn… but we’ll also have to chop wood so that our star doesn’t send us a huge CME, with all the catastrophic consequences that would entail (see our article). than the star of absolutely phenomenal proportions
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