Science

Sun unleashes monster solar flare

Sun unleashes monster solar flare

NASA captured images of two massive sun solar flares this week, one was the biggest since at least 2008.

Another powerful solar flare appearing on Friday has caused scientists concern.

The same region was also the origin of the mid-level intensity eruptions observed last September 4. The sun has a roughly 11-year cycle of solar activity as a result of the movements of its magnetic field, and the solar minimum is the period during which sunspot and solar flare activity bottom out. That flare was the strongest since 2015, at X2.2, but it was dwarfed just 3 hours later, at 8:02 a.m. EDT (1202 GMT), by an X9.3 flare, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).

The space agency said the solar flares were accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME) and this could have an impact on technology. Despite the rare occurrence, cycle end flares tend to be more powerful and explosive. It happens when the sun's magnetic field reconnects, sending a blast of energy outward.

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As NASA pointed out, when magnetic fields rise up from below the sun's surface, they eventually poke through, creating cool, dark patches on the sun.

Solar flares are classified according to strength using the letters A, B, C, M and X.

Although the flare was the largest so far in the current 11-year-solar cycle, NASA reassured people that the harmful radiation from a flare can not pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. X category flares carry enormous amounts of radiation which have an impact on planet Earth.

There might be another chance for auroras in the days ahead: Two more solar flares erupted early today, at 2:10 a.m. and 5;02 a.m. PT. Hence, they have no physical effect on humans on the ground. In fact, the recent X-class flares have killed both high and low-frequency communication on Earth for an entire hour.


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