NASA Captures An Incredibly Powerful X-Class Solar Flare Erupting On The Sun
NASA just shareed some amazing images of a powerful solar flare emitted by our Sun on March 3, 2023. The images were taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and show a subset of extreme ultraviolet light, highlighting the immensely hot material contained within the solar flares.
Solar flares are mammoth eruptions of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, with some lasting hours. As the outburst of material leaves the Sun's surface, it travels at immense speeds, and any effect on the sunlit side of Earth's exposed atmosphere happens very quickly after the event is observed, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. The event that occurred on March 3 was classified as an X2.1 flare, with the X-class denoting the most intense flares and the numbers providing further information about its strength.
A radio blackout is classified using a five-level NOAA Space Weather Scale, related to the flare's expected or observed maximum peak of soft X-rays. The Space Weather Prediction Center forecasts the probability of C, M, and X-class flares and relates it to the probability of an R1-R2, and R3 or greater events. The March 3rd event had a severity descriptor of "Strong".
Often times powerful solar flares are accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The result can be geomagnetic storms here on Earth, in turn having an effect on power grids and orbiting spacecraft, as well as producing auroral displays.
NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory is part of the Living With a Star Program, and is designed to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. The spacecraft was launched on February 11, 2010, on an Atlas V from Cape Canaveral, and is helping scientists to understand how solar activity is created and how Space Weather is affected by that activity.