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Powerful solar flare lashes Earth, causes radio blackout across Europe and Africa

solar flare glowing on sun in green filter
On Friday, Aug. 26, 2022 more powerful flares careened from the sun. (Image credit: NASA/SDO/Helioviewer.org)

Punches from the sun are overpowering skywatchers these days.

Yet another series of solar flares (opens in new tab) series shimmied out from the sun on Friday (Aug. 26) after a dazzling show of green-hued auroras (opens in new tab) crashed through the atmosphere just days ago.

"Sunspot AR3089 is crackling with a series of intensifying M-class [moderate] solar flares," SpaceWeather.com (opens in new tab) said in a Friday update. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an especially powerful flare at 7:16 a.m. EDT (1116 GMT) as populations in Europe and Africa experienced a brief radio blackout.

A huge ejection of charged particles from the sun (opens in new tab), known as a coronal mass ejection, may strike our planet on Monday (Aug. 29) and spark auroras around the Arctic Circle, according to a statement (opens in new tab) from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (These shining lights occur when charged particles interact with Earth's magnetic field (opens in new tab).)

The sun is certainly feeling forceful these days, as it is generating a surge of space weather (opens in new tab) to herald the start of its maximum of an 11-year solar cycle (opens in new tab) of activity.

Related: Hyperactive sunspot just hurled a huge X-class solar flare into space (opens in new tab)

Green auroral displays as seen from the International Space Station. This image was captured by in August 2022 by the European Space Agency's Samantha Cristoforetti. (Image credit: Twitter/Samantha Cristoforetti)

Swarms of northern and southern lights were spotted earlier this week (opens in new tab), including seen from space by the European Space Agency's Samantha Cristoforetti. (The veteran astronaut said it was the most powerful storm yet in her 300 days in space.)

Most space weather (opens in new tab) at its most dramatic provides a great show for people on or near Earth, but a small number of particularly powerful storms can harm power lines, satellites and other vital infrastructure that our planet depends upon.

The sun is more prone to temper tantrums when it reaches its maximum of activity, as sunspots spread on the surface and magnetic lines twist and snap. If a storm is directed toward Earth (opens in new tab), that can create auroras, blackouts and other effects.

Related: The worst solar storms in history (opens in new tab)

NASA, the European Space Agency and other space-faring entities keep an eye on solar weather 24/7 to provide the best protection possible for Earth, satellite managers and the astronauts working above our planet.

If you captured a stunning photo of the northern lights let us know! You can send in images and comments to Space.com by emailing spacephotos@space.com (opens in new tab). Be sure to let us know your name, where you were observing from and what it was like to see the auroras.

Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).

Originally published on Live Science sister site Space.com.

Elizabeth Howell
Live Science Contributor
Elizabeth Howell is a regular contributor to Live Science and Space.com, along with several other science publications. She is one of a handful of Canadian reporters who specializes in space reporting. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Journalism, Science Concentration at Carleton University (Canada) and an M.Sc. Space Studies (distance) at the University of North Dakota. Elizabeth became a full-time freelancer after earning her M.Sc. in 2012. She reported on three space shuttle launches in person and once spent two weeks in an isolated Utah facility pretending to be a Martian.