Wednesday, August 1st 2012, 9:12 AM EDT
For the second day in a row, sunspot AR1532 has unleashed a moderately-strong solar flare. The latest, an M6-class eruption, occurred on July 28th at 2056 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the extreme UV flash:
Asia's third-largest economy -- INDIA -- was hit by three more huge power grid failures, one day after a similar, but smaller power failure covered half the country -- leaving more than 650 million people without electricity in the world’s biggest blackout according to the ATCA Research & Analysis Wing. More than half the population of India has been affected, which is roughly 10% of the world's population and bigger than the entire population of the European Union or the United States, Russia and Brazil combined. In parallel, hours of power outage in the scorching summer sparked protest in most parts of Pakistan and angry protesters attacked offices of power supply departments in some areas.
Solar Flare or Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)?
Is a "Solar Flare" partially responsible for India and Pakistan's massive power outage? Could it have been a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) since most of Pakistan, along with northern India, also suffered long blackouts? Given that rains had arrived, temperature was down in north India so there was less requirement for a power overdraw. For example, the temperature in New Delhi on 31st July was 25.4 degrees Celsius, more than ten degrees below what it had been during the peak of the summer heat. If electricity overuse was the sole cause of the power failure, because of too many people drawing power, this would have happened before now.
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A medium-size solar flare erupted from the sun this weekend, hurling a cloud of plasma and charged particles towards Earth on a cosmic path that was expected to deliver a glancing blow to our planet on July 31st, according to space weather forecasters, the day the massive power outage took place across India and Pakistan. The M6-class solar flare exploded from the sun on Saturday -- July 28th -- unleashing a wave of plasma and charged particles, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), into space. "This is a slow-moving CME," astronomer Tony Phillips wrote on Spaceweather.com, which regularly monitors space weather events. "The cloud's low speed (382 km/s estimated) combined with its glancing trajectory suggests a weak impact is in the offing. Nevertheless, polar geomagnetic storms are possible when the cloud arrives."
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