Friday, May 17, 2024

X-Class Solar Flares Dominate Sun in May 2024 | NASA Goddard

X-Class Solar Flares Dominate Sun in May 2024 | NASA Goddard

During the week of May 10 to May 16, 2024, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observed nine X-class solar flares erupting from the Sun, including the largest in this solar cycle to date on May 14 that peaked at X8.7. 

This video shows these flares using SDO observations in two wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, 131 angstroms (colorized as teal) and 171 angstroms (colorized as gold).

These flares originated primarily from an active region on the Sun called AR 13664. This region, along with another called AR 13663, was responsible for the majority of strong solar flares from May 3 through May 9.  

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 eight minutes to travel from the Sun to Earth, so that’s 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, energetic particles associated with flares can create a harmful radiation environment for astronauts, especially for human exploration activities beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field.

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,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.

Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)/Scientific Visualization Studio

Producer: Lacey Young (MORI Associates)

Writer: Mara Johnson-Groh (Telophase)

Data Visualizers: Tom Bridgman (Global Science and Technology, Inc.)

Duration: 2 minutes

Release Date: May 17, 2024

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