NASA captures powerful Solar Flare! Can it affect humans on Earth?

NASA has captured an amazing image of the Sun where it can be seen emitting a massive solar flare.

| Updated on: Jan 24 2022, 08:30 IST
Solar flare released from the Sun
How can a solar flare released from the Sun affect humans on Earth? Here is what NASA says. (NASA/SDO) (NASA/SDO)
Solar flare released from the Sun
How can a solar flare released from the Sun affect humans on Earth? Here is what NASA says. (NASA/SDO) (NASA/SDO)

The Solar Dynamics Observatory of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has captured an image of the Sun emitting a significant solar flare on January 20, 2022. This was a mid-level solar flare which peaked at 1:01 am EST on the same day. NASA has classified the solar flare as M5.5. Informing about this, NASA tweeted, "The Sun emitted a significant solar flare early this morning, peaking at 1:01 a.m. ET. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the event, which was classified as M5.5."

What is solar flare and can it affect humans on Earth? A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. However, what needs to be noted is that the harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to affect humans on the ground. Though, when intense enough they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.

According to NASA, flares are our solar system's largest explosive events. They are seen as bright areas on the sun and they can last from minutes to hours. Typically a solar flare can be seen by the photons (or light) it releases, at most every wavelength of the spectrum. The primary ways NASA monitors flares are in x-rays and optical light. Flares are also sites where particles (electrons, protons, and heavier particles) are accelerated.

Solar flares travel at the speed of light

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the sudden outburst of electromagnetic energy travels at the speed of light.

"Solar flares usually take place in active regions, which are areas on the Sun marked by the presence of strong magnetic fields; typically associated with sunspot groups. As these magnetic fields evolve, they can reach a point of instability and release energy in a variety of forms. These include electromagnetic radiation, which are observed as solar flares," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

Solar flare intensities cover a large range and are classified in terms of peak emission in the 0.1 – 0.8 nm spectral band (soft x-rays) of the NOAA/GOES XRS.

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First Published Date: 24 Jan, 08:30 IST