Monday, April 3, 2017


M4.4 solar flare from sunspot AR2644 flare caused a shortwave radio blackout. It also produced the opposite--a loud burst of radio static. In rural New Mexico, amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded the hiss and crackle emerging from the loudspeaker of his receiver. Click to listen:

"The solar flare generated very strong emissions and nearly saturated my radio telescope," says Ashcraft. " The sound file was recorded at 21 MHz and it has three peaks."

Solar radio bursts are caused by solar flares. Electrons accelerated by strong flares race through the sun's atmosphere, causing a ripple of plasma waves and radio static. Astronomers classify solar radio bursts into five types; Ashcraft's recording captured a mixture of Type III and Type V.

"I had been thinking that I might not be receiving any more strong solar storms this cycle," says Ashcraft, "but am thrilled to receive this activity. And there might be more to come if AR2644 continues to flare."

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