Dangerous C1-class solar flare likely to hit Earth

A potential C1-class solar flare presents potential danger of Earth impact, according to a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

| Updated on: Apr 03 2023, 11:59 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
Solar storm
1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
Solar Flare
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
Coronal Mass Ejection or CME
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
Solar Particles
5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
Solar Flare
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Solar flare could impact Earth in the coming days. (NASA SDO)

Solar activity has been ramping up over the last few months as we move ahead towards the peak of solar cycle 25, which is expected to be around July 2025. This is the main reason why the Sun has become so violent and Earth is in the firing line of various solar phenomena for the next few years. And yes, it can be dangerous. Although the past couple of days have been quieter than usual in terms of solar activity, a solar flare was still spewed out by the Sun recently.

According to a report by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as many as 4 sunspots have been recently observed on the solar surface. Although solar activity is expected to be at a low, there is still a chance of a C1-class solar flare to be hurled out by the Sun in the coming days.

The report stated, “Solar activity is expected to be very low with a chance for C-class flares on days one, two, and three (03 Apr, 04 Apr, 05 Apr).”

How are solar flares rated?

According to NASA, solar flares are classified according to their strength on the logarithmic scale, similar to how earthquakes are measured. The smallest ones are A-class which occur at near background levels, followed by B, C, M and X. Similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. So an X is ten times an M and 100 times a C. Within each letter class there is a finer scale from 1 to 9.

The role of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities.

They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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First Published Date: 03 Apr, 09:01 IST