Active Sun Unleashes Massive Solar Flare
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The sun fired off a massive solar flare late Friday (Dec. 19), after days of intense storms from our nearest star.
The huge solar flare registered as an X1.8-class event, one of the most powerful types of flares possible, and was captured on camera by NASA’s powerful Solar Dynamics Observatory. The flare triggered a strong radio blackout for parts of Earth as it peaked Friday at 7:28 p.m. EST (0028 Dec. 20 GMT), according to an alert from the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center overseen by NOAA.
“The region remains large and complex,” SWPC experts wrote in the update. “More minor to moderate radio blackouts are expected, with an ongoing chance for another strong event.”
Friday’s solar flare capped an active week of sun storms. Earlier in the week, another active sunspot region called AR 2241 fired off two intense M-class (moderate) flares, one late Tuesday (Dec. 16) registering as an M8.7-class sun storm, and the other on Thursday (Dec. 18) that ranked as an M6.9 solar flare. Sunspots are regions of intense magnetic field activity on the sun that can trigger solar flares.
X-class solar flares are the strongest solar flares the sun can unleash. When aimed directly at Earth, they can disrupt communications and GPS navigation systems on Earth, and even pose a threat to satellites and astronauts in space.
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