ALMOST-X FLARE: Departing sunspot AR1996 erupted on March 12th at 2234 UT, producing an M9-category blast that almost crossed into X-territory. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the extreme ultra-violet flash:
UV radiation from the flare caused waves of ionization to ripple through Earth’s upper atmosphere. These waves briefly altered the propagation of low-frequency radio transmisions around the planet, as shown in this plot from amateur radio astronomer Jim Tegerdine of Marysville, Washington. Otherwise the flare was not geoeffective. The sunspot’s location near the sun’s eastern limb mitigated Earth effects.
The next big flare could have a greater influence on our planet. Sunspot AR2002 is directly facing Earth, and it has a ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate an 80% chance of M-class flares and a 15% chance of X-flares on March 13th