The active sun fired a powerful X-class flare, the strongest our star experiences, on Tuesday (May 3), but not in Earth’s direction.
The solar flare peaked at 9:25 a.m. EDT (1325 GMT) and was captured in images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, the agency tweeted. No specific guidance on effects on Earth was discussed, but the auroras are unlikely to be amplified as this event took place in the sun’s lower left extremity.
The flare was recorded as a class X1.1 solar flare, the second such storm in a week from the Sun. A different active region on the sun, which has since moved away from Earth, unleashed an X1.1-class flare on April 30. X-class flares are the most powerful explosions from the sun.
“Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation”, NASA tweeted of the event. “The harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through the Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however, when intense enough, it can disrupt the atmosphere in the layer where GPS signals travel. and communications.”
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The sunspot from which the flare emerged has not yet been named. “The source is a new, unnumbered sunspot emerging over the southeastern edge of the sun,” SpaceWeather.com said.
Auroras can be amplified after a solar flare when charged particles from a coronal mass ejection erupt from the sun and reach Earth and interact with its upper atmosphere. As long as Earth is in the direction of the blast, those particles move across our planet’s magnetic field lines and excite molecules high in the atmosphere, creating colored lights.
The sun was active throughout April, displaying huge sunspot groups as it fired flares ranging from moderate size to the largest X-class. The sun appears to be waking up as it moves toward its predicted peak of solar activity in 2025.
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are the US government agencies that constantly monitor the sun for its solar weather, to determine the effects on Earth and elsewhere in the solar system. A nearby NASA mission called the Parker Solar Probe is trying to understand more about the corona, which is the sun’s superheated outer atmosphere.