Friday, May 10, 2024

Our Active Sun: A Week of Rapid-Fire Solar Flares | NASA

Our Active Sun: A Week of Rapid-Fire Solar Flares | NASA

From May 3 through May 9, 2024, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observed 82 notable solar flares. The flares came mainly from two active regions on the Sun called AR 13663 and AR 13664. This video highlights all flares classified at M5 or higher with nine categorized as X-class solar flares.

A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation, or light, on the Sun. Flares are our solar system’s most powerful explosive events. Light only takes about 8 minutes to travel from the Sun to Earth, so that is how long it would take the energy from a flare to reach our planet. 

Solar flares are rated into different classes based on their strength, or energy output, and the effect a flare will have on Earth depends on what class it is (B, C, M, and X classes, with X being the most intense). Earth’s atmosphere absorbs most of the Sun’s intense radiation, so flares are not directly harmful to humans on the ground. However, the radiation from a flare can be harmful to astronauts outside of Earth’s atmosphere, and it can affect the technology we rely on.

Stronger solar flares—those rated class M5 or above—can have impacts on technology that depends on Earth’s ionosphere (our electrically charged upper atmosphere), like high-frequency radio used for navigation and GPS. 

To see how such space weather may affect Earth, please visit NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the U.S. government’s official source for space weather forecasts, watches, warnings, and alerts. NASA works as a research arm of the nation’s space weather effort. NASA observes the Sun and our space environment constantly with a fleet of spacecraft that study everything from the Sun’s activity to the solar atmosphere, and to the particles and magnetic fields in the space surrounding Earth.

Video Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)

Producer: Beth Anthony (eMITS)

Writer: Abbey A. Interrante (ADNET Systems, Inc.)

Writer: Joy Ng (National Institutes of Aerospace)

Duration: 3 minutes, 16 seconds

Release Date: May 10, 2024

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