The highest intensity (X-class) solar flares have caused radio blackouts in the United States and Canada. The coming peak in solar activity could disrupt GPS, satellites and power grids across the planet.
The solar flares that occurred on August 5 and 7, 2023, were so powerful that they caused radio blackouts across much of the U.S. and Canada. Physicist Keith Strong shared this information on social network X.
According to NASA, the flare, which occurred on August 7, had a power of X1.5. X-class events are the most intense and can pose a danger to astronauts and satellites.
In 2023, astronomers have recorded more X-class flares than in the previous year. This is due to the approaching peak of solar activity. Usually solar cycles last about 11 years, during which the star goes through periods of high and low activity.
The new solar peak is expected to occur in 2025, but an increase in the number of sunspots and the frequency of flares could lead to its occurrence as early as late 2023. The previous solar maximum, which occurred between 2012 and 2014, was relatively weak compared to typical activity peaks.
Solar radiation can ionize particles in the upper atmosphere, causing the aurora borealis. High-frequency radio waves propagate in this part of the Earth, so powerful solar flares can degrade radio signals. For example, the most powerful flare of 2023, the X2.2 class, occurred in February and caused radio disruption.
However, if an X28 solar flare like the one recorded in 2003 were to occur, it could have incredibly disruptive effects on Earth’s technology. More intense solar activity could damage the power grid, destroy satellites and disrupt GPS.