CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida -- The joint NASA and NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center says that the R3-Radio Blackout Storms (Strong) that occurred at 12:49 Eastern Daylight Time on July 12, 2012 were accompanied by a Coronal Mass Ejection associated with an X-class solar flare that is traveling towards the Earth at 850 miles per second. Active Region 1520, located close to center disk pictured above, is the culprit on today's events.
Hampered by limited observations of the event, Space Weather Prediction Center forecasters are now anticipating the passage of the Coronal Mass Ejection by the Earth around 1:00 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday, July 14, 2012.
G1 (minor) Geomagnetic Storm activity is expected to then ensue through the rest of the day. An S1 (minor) Solar Radiation Storm is now occurring, also as a consequence of the solar flare/coronal mass ejection. The parent active region, NOAA 1520, appears to have retained its ability to erupt, so more solar flares are possible
Radio blackouts occur when the X-rays or extreme UV light from a flare disturb the layer of Earth's atmosphere known as the ionosphere, through which radio waves travel. The constant changes in the ionosphere change the paths of the radio waves as they move, thus degrading the information they carry. This affects both high and low frequency radio waves alike. Radio blackouts are rated on a scale from R1 (minor) to R5 (extreme). An R2 radio blackout can result in limited degradation of both high- and low-frequency radio communication and GPS signals.
Image and Video Credit: NOAA / NASA / SWPC