Solar flares - giant explosions on the surface of the sun

Coronal Mass Ejections | NOAA / NWS Space Weather Prediction Center

Also it was very unusual that the opening moment of life of the largest solar flare can be observed. The most powerful solar flares that NASA recorded was X9.3 class.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) issued a warning that strong radio blackouts were expected as a result of the flare, with loss of contact lasting up to an hour on Tuesday.

On top of that, a coronal hole on the sun is producing a quick stream of particles that is also travelling along the solar wind. The most recent warning predicts a moderate geomagnetic storm for Wednesday and a minor one for Thursday - ranked a G2 and a G1, on a scale where G5 is the strongest.

There are three categories of solar flares, and Sunday's was the highest classification: an "X" event.

Aside from just glimpsing something spectacular, getting the solar flare on camera is important in helping to predict when they might occur, which will be vital if one is of such severity that it could affect Global Positioning System satellites and power grids on Earth. A series of smaller emissions preceded the September 6 flare which was followed by a X8.2 flare on September 10. If the radium levels of the rays go high, it can also be risky for astronauts of worldwide space station and airline passengers.

This flare is the capstone on a series of flares from Active Region 2673, which was identified on August 29 and is now rotating off the front of the sun as part of our star's normal rotation. "The current solar cycle began in December 2008, and is now decreasing in intensity and heading toward solar minimum". At the end of the active phase, these eruptions become increasingly rare but still can be powerful. It overloaded all of NASA's solar measurement sensors, which cut out after measuring a flare of X28.

A group of researchers from the Queen's University Belfast and Sheffield University has captured the largest solar flare in around 12 years in the La Palma with the help of the Swedish Solar Telescope.

These cause major disturbances in the Earth's magnetosphere, the area of space surrounding Earth, which can create geomagnetic storms.

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