Strongest solar flare in a decade were many times larger than Earth

Strongest solar flare in a decade were many times larger than Earth

The two flares occurred Wednesday morning at 5:10am and 8:02am EDT. The flares were considered by some scientists to be mid-range, while others discussed them as among the most intense class of solar flares.

A solar flare is created when the Sun's magnetic field experiences a disturbance, resulting in the release of high-energy radiation. Physicists believe the magnetic field can become twisted and looped as the Sun rotates, until finally these lines "snap". A flare, which is a localized explosion of light and particles on the Sun, can also trigger a secondary blast of particles into interplanetary space.

Unfortunately, the solar flares come at a bit of an inopportune time for those of us on Earth (and especially in the US), as many are relying on weather satellites to continue monitoring Hurricane Irma and other Atlantic-based storms.

Wednesday's flares were ranked using the X-class system, which is used to measure the intensity of particularly strong flares.

The first flare peaked at 6:15 a.m. EDT (1015 GMT) and is classified as an M7.3, or a midlevel flare.

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The region has shot out five relatively large flares since September 4, according to NASA. This wavelength shows material in flares at temperatures over 10,000,000 Kelvin (18,000,000 Fahrenheit [10,000,000 Celsius]). An X20 flare was recorded in April of 2001. The last such powerful X-class flare was 9.0 on December 5, 2006.

M-class flares may cause brief radio blackouts in polar regions and minor concern for any orbiting astronauts.

The Sun just unleashed two massive solar flares, one of which was the most powerful one recorded in over a decade. High-frequency radio signals blacked out across the daytime side of Earth for about an hour after Wednesday's initial bursts, according to National Geographic.

Amidst the onslaught of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, we should be ready to face another storm, this time from the Sun as it exudes huge amount of charged particles towards Earth.

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