By Dean Murray

The night sky light show might not be over just yet.

Sunspot AR3664, responsible for the jaw-dropping Northern Lights over the UK on the weekend, has had a final blast.

The active region generated another massive solar flare on Monday (13 May), releasing intense bursts of energy and radiation into space.

Scientific website Space Today reported: “This time a long duration M6.6 flare, resulting in a full and rapid halo CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). Most of the CME is directed SW, with a component directed toward Earth. Impact is expected on May 15.”

CMEs are explosions of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun’s corona. They cause geomagnetic storms when they are directed at Earth.

An M6.6 solar flare is classified as a moderately strong solar flare, able to cause radio blackouts at the higher frequencies used by commercial airliners and ham radio operators. They can also cause minor disruptions to satellite operations and navigation systems.

Space blog EarthSky says the Sun’s fresh output won’t have such a dramatic effect on Earth as the weekend’s activity, but “at least G3 (moderate) geomagnetic storming is in the forecast”, which has potential to produce significant auroral displays under the right conditions.

The Sun’s activity was observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) spacecraft. Its mission is to study the Sun’s dynamics to “increase understanding of the nature and sources of solar variability”.

SDO documents the outer atmosphere of the Sun – called the corona – as well as hot flare plasma.

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