And it has been captured very beautifully.

Researchers have spotted another fierce solar flare. He gave an appearance yesterday afternoon. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a space probe that has been studying the sun since 2010, captured the event beautifully. And this probably won’t be the last flare the probe will see.

solar flares

A solar flare is basically an explosion on the surface of the sun, caused by the sudden release of the energy held in the magnetic fields. Radiation is generated over the entire region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The recently observed solar flare was a violent one† Researchers have even classified it as Class X.

Three main classes
Solar flares can be divided into three main classes. Class C concerns small eruptions that hardly affect the earth. A notch more violent is class M. These are moderate eruptions, which can cause short periods of radio failure around the poles. The heaviest solar flares are classified under class X: eruptions that can destroy radio links and power plants on Earth.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the event beautifully. The photo can be seen below. The solar flare is the bright flash seen at about the center of the sun.

Recently spotted solar flare, captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Image: NASA/SDO

Incidentally, this is not the first time this year that researchers have observed a class X solar flare. Last March, the sun also spat one out.

solar maximum

The fact that these events now follow each other in short order has everything to do with the solar maximum that we are heading for. That’s right. Our parent star roughly goes through an 11-year cycle, characterized by a solar minimum – a period when the sun is very quiet and generates few sunspots and flares – and a solar maximum, during which the star is much more active. In 2020 we have rolled into a new solar cycle: the 25th. And our parent star is expected to become increasingly active in the coming years, reaching a peak around about 2025.

Just the beginning

As researchers said in March, ‘this is just the beginning’. Because the closer we get to the solar maximum, the more solar flares we will see. These do not necessarily have to be dangerous. Our earth is surrounded by a magnetic field that protects us against the vagaries of the sun, among other things. However, severe solar flares can indeed cause problems. For example, bright specimens can affect our radio communications, power grids, navigation systems and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.

NASA therefore keeps a close eye on the activity of the sun and our immediate space environment with the help of a fleet of spacecraft. These study the solar atmosphere down to the particles and magnetic fields in the space around the earth. That way we are quickly aware of extreme space weather. And so prepare yourself. Because many more solar flares are likely to follow.