Sun fires powerful X69class solar flare

first_imgBesides heating the Earth, the Sun has been very busy the past few days. Just last week we reported that high latitude regions of the Northern Hemisphere may have had the luxury of viewing aurora borealis displays thanks to a large solar flare that hurled a cloud of plasma down to Earth at the beginning of the week. Today, we’re hearing more news from NASA of another, very large solar flare.At 3:48 a.m. EST today, the Sun shot the largest solar flare seen in the current solar cycle. The powerful flare had an X-ray magnitude of X6.9, which is three times the size of the previous largest solar flare from February that had an X2.2 rating, and is the largest flare seen since 2006. The X-class flares are classified as the strongest of solar flares, whereas the smallest are A-class. These are followed by B, C, M, and then X, and each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output, much like the Richter scale.NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was able to capture high-definition photos of the solar flare, one of which you can see above. The flare erupted near the solar limb at the site of sunspot 1263. The M-class flares we saw last week came from sunspots 1263 and 1261 — a very active part of the Sun.Today’s flare produced a coronal mass ejection, another solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and disrupt electronic systems in satellites and on Earth. However, scientists believe there won’t be any impact on Earth. There were some brief VLF and HF radio blackouts on the Sun-facing side of Earth when the solar flare was fired due to X-ray radiation, but nothing major.You can watch a short video below of the solar flare from SDO. The movie was made using observations from the SDO’s Atmospheric Imaging Assembly.To get some more background on solar flares, science-class style, check out the video below from NASA.via Discoverylast_img

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