Stunning sight! NASA observatory snaps terrifying X-class solar flare erupting from the Sun

A dangerous X-class solar flare was emitted from the surface of the Sun, and it was captured by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory.

| Updated on: Jul 04 2023, 12:25 IST
6 TERRIFYING solar storms that blasted Earth in 2022
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1/6 On June 29, a surprise solar storm struck the Earth. The solar storm was not caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) but by a corotating interaction region (CIR), which opened a hole in the Earth's magnetosphere. It was a G1-class solar storm which is capable of causing shortwave radio blackouts and GPS disruptions. Interestingly, it coincided with the rare five planet alignment event.  (NASA)
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2/6 Extremely rare pink auroras could be seen on November 3 near Greenland, after a G1-class solar storm slammed into the Earth. Solar storms usually give a greenish hue due to ionizing of Oxygen atoms. However, the CME in this case was able to reach the lower strata of the atmosphere which ionized Nitrogen atoms and gave off the rare pink aura.  (Representative Photo) (Pixabay)
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3/6 On November 6, a powerful solar flare which was estimated to be an X-class solar flare caused temporary radio blackouts in Australia and New Zealand. The resultant solar storm blocked all high frequency radio waves making it hard for various emergency services and airlines that use radio communications to operate for multiple hours.  (Pixabay)
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4/6 On August 7 and 8, a mysterious phenomenon was seen after a solar storm strike which scientists call STEVE (strong thermal emission velocity enhancement). A gigantic ribbon of purple light followed by a wave of green light could be seen in many parts of North America.   (@KaniskiDylan / Twitter)
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5/6 A rare double solar storm attack was seen on March 14 when a G2-class solar storm was quickly followed up with another G1-class solar storm. Scientists believe that such multiple solar storm attacks are going to be more frequent in coming days as the Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle. (Pixabay)
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6/6 On October 25, the Sun seemed to beam a smile at Earth even as it spewed a stream of dangerous solar particles towards our planet. Multiple dark regions popped up on the Sun that gave an uncanny impression of a smiley face. The resultant solar storm from the event was noted to be a G2-class which is so strong that it is capable of causing fluctuations in electricity grids on Earth.  (SDO/AIA)
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NASA SDO captured the solar flare with its suite of advanced instruments. (NASA/SDO)

The Sun has been showing all its might for the past couple of months and as we approach the solar maximum that will likely occur in 2025, its wrath is only expected to increase. For the unaware, solar maximum is the period of greatest solar activity during the Sun's 11-year cycle. At solar max, the changes in the Sun's magnetic field result in more solar activity such as sunspots, CMEs, eruptions, and more. The effects of this activity were seen on July 2 as the Sun hurled out a terrifying X-class solar flare.

Solar flare captured

According to a NASA report, the solar flare that was emitted from the Sun's surface was of X1.0 intensity. X-class solar flares are the most intense flares which can result in long-lasting radiation storms. The flare was captured by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) which 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. The captured image shows extreme ultraviolet light highlighting the hot material spewing out from the Sun, which is colorized in teal.

X-class solar flares: Are they dangerous?

X-class solar flares can create radiation storms which have the potential to not only harm satellites, but also give small doses of radiation to the people flying in airplanes at the time! Moreover, these devastating flares can disrupt global communications and bring down the power grids to create blackouts, if they are are extremely powerful.

If the X-class flares are too strong, they can result in loops that are ten times as big as Earth which leaps off the Sun's surface as the magnetic fields cross over, according to NASA. When these loops reconnect, they can produce as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs!

Most powerful solar flare in recent history

While most X-class flares are dangerous, some are so strong that even advanced instruments are unable to measure them. In 2003, an X-class flare that was hurled out by the Sun was so strong that the sensors measuring it were overloaded. Its intensity came out to be a staggering X28 on the measuring scale.

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First Published Date: 04 Jul, 12:23 IST
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