On Tuesday (May 3) the active sun emitted a powerful X-class glow, our star’s strongest experience, but not in the direction of Earth.
The solar flare peaked at 9:25 am EDT (1325 GMT) and was filmed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, the agency tweeted. No specific guidance on the effects on Earth has been discussed, but the auroras are unlikely to be amplified as this event took place on the sun’s left lower limb.
The flare registered as a class X1.1 solar flare, the second such storm in a week from the sun. A different active region of the sun, which has since moved away from Earth, unleashed an X1.1-class glow on April 30. Class X flares are the most powerful explosions on the sun.
“Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation,” NASA tweeted of the event. “The harmful radiation from a glow cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on earth, however, when intense enough, it can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communication signals travel.”
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The sunspot from which the glow emerged has not yet been named. “The source is a new unnumbered sunspot emerging on the sun’s southeastern edge,” SpaceWeather.com said.
Auroras can be amplified after a solar flare when charged particles from a coronal mass ejection erupt from the sun then reach Earth and interact with its upper atmosphere. Provided the Earth is in the direction of the explosion, those particles move across our planet’s magnetic field lines and excite molecules high up in the atmosphere, creating colored lights.
The sun was active throughout April, showing huge sunspot clusters as it emitted rockets that ranged from moderate to larger X-size class Xs. The sun appears to wake up as it approaches its predicted peak in solar activity in 2025.
NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are the American government agencies that constantly monitor the sun for its solar climate, to determine the effects on Earth and other places in the solar system. A NASA close mission called the Parker Solar Probe is trying to understand more about the corona, which is the sun’s superheated outer atmosphere.