SATURDAY X-FLARE: Behemoth sunspot 1302 unleashed another strong flare on Saturday morning--an X1.9-category blast at 0940 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:
The movie also shows a shadowy shock wave racing away from the blast site. This is a sign that the blast produced a coronal mass ejection (CME). Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the CME could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 26 at 14:10 UT (+/- 7 hours); click here for an animated forecast track.
UPDATE: Sunspot AR1302 followed today's X2-flare with an M7-flare nearly as strong (movie). So far none of the blasts has been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead. AR1302 is growing and shows no immediate signs of quieting down. Solar flare alerts: text,voice.
ACTIVE SUNSPOT: New sunspot 1302 has already produced two X-flares (X1.4 on Sept. 22nd and X1.9 on Sept. 24th), can another be far behind? NOAA forecasters put the 24-hour probability at 20%. The sheer size of the active region suggests the odds might be even higher than that:
Each of the dark cores in this snapshot from the Solar Dynamics Observatory is larger than Earth, and the entire active region stretches more than 100,000 km from end to end. The sunspot's magnetic field is crackling with sub-X-class flares that could grow into a larger eruption as the sunspot continues to turn toward Earth.Solar flare alerts: text, voice.
more images: from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Jo Dahlmans of Ulestraten The Netherlands; from P-M Hedén of Ålbo, Sweden; from Howard Eskildsen of Ocala, Florida
UPDATE: Chile's National Grid Collapses Into Major Power Blackout!
As the X-class solar flare threat for the Earth continues, a widespread power blackout has affected between 9 million and 16 million people in Chile, due to a problem with the national power grid, forcing thousands in the capital to be evacuated from trains or subway cars.
Four of the South American nation's 15 regions -- including the Santiago capital area of more than six million people -- lost power around 2O30 local time (2330 GMT). Authorities gave no immediate explanation of the cause of the blackout. There were no immediate reports of related injuries. But the blackout ground the capital's subway system to a halt, cut off cellular phone service and forced the cancellation of a concert by Puerto Rican pop star Ricky Martin. Some areas of the capital regained power 50 minutes into the blackout, local radio reports said. The last massive blackout hit Chile in March 2010. Authorities said the national power grid would remain unstable for at least two years after the magnitude 8.8 earthquake in February 2010 that rocked Chile and killed more than 500 people. - Channel News Asia.
A massive power blackout paralyzed crucial copper mines in Chile on Saturday and darkened vast swaths of the country including the capital Santiago before energy was largely restored, officials said. The outage acutely exposed the fragility of the energy grid in the world's top copper producer, which was devastated by a powerful earthquake in 2010... Scrambling engineers were able to fully restore power generation and get distribution up to 90 percent of normal, the government said after the blackout, which lasted a couple of hours in most places. "We've regained power in various regions of the country," said Chilean Energy Minister Rodrigo Alvarez. At an earlier briefing, Alvarez said the cause of the outage was unknown but that computers that help run the energy grid had also malfunctioned. The blackout primarily hit the center of the country, where nearly 10 million of Chile's 16 million people live. - Reuters.