Sun fires off powerful solar flare; NASA shares image

Devdiscourse News Desk | California | Updated: 23-02-2024 22:02 IST | Created: 23-02-2024 20:09 IST
Sun fires off powerful solar flare; NASA shares image
Image Credit: NASA/SDO

On Thursday, February 22, the Sun released a strong solar flare, which peaked at 5:34 p.m. EST. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which keeps a constant eye on the Sun, captured an image of the event.

For the unversed, solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation that can last from minutes to hours. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. However, when intense enough, they can disrupt satellite operations, communications systems, and power grids.

Flares are classified according to their strength, the smallest ones are A-class, followed by B, C, M, and X, with X representing the strongest class. Thursday's event was classified as X6.3.

The Sun becomes more intense as it approaches solar maximum due to an increase in solar activity, which is part of the Sun's natural 11-year solar cycle. This cycle is characterized by variations in the number of sunspots, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) observed on the Sun.

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), Thursday's event was the strongest solar flare observed during the current solar cycle - Solar Cycle 25. The flare took place close to midnight in Europe, there was no impact on local satellite navigation or communication.

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