NASA captures images of strong solar flares

Andrew Cummings
September 13, 2017

The solar flares have been standardized as class X8.2.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun continuously, caught a few different views of last week's flares that can be seen in the above video. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength.

The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 12:06 p.m. EDT on September 10, 2017 captured on video below.

As the researchers explained, actually capturing the birth of such a solar flare was a rather hard process as a tyical X-class flare can burst and reach its peak in as little as five minutes, meaning astronomers need to act fast to ensure they catch the crucial opening moments of the flares evolution. It has happened after 11 years as the period of the solar cycle which began in December 2008 and is now moving towards solar minimum by decreasing its intensity. In total, seven flares have been spotted in the last week, two of which were almost as impressive as the record-setter.

According to the researchers, now the sun is expected to enter into the quietest phase of its cycle of around 11 years.

Also it was very unusual that the opening moment of life of the largest solar flare can be observed.

According to SWPC, the flares resulted in radio blackouts: high-frequency radio experienced a "wide area of blackouts, loss of contact for up to an hour over the sunlit side of Earth", and Global Positioning System communications were degraded for about an hour. Depending on the orientation of the magnetic fields carried by the ejection cloud, Earth-directed coronal mass ejections cause magnetic storms by interacting with the Earth's magnetic field, distorting its shape, and accelerating electrically charged particles (electrons and atomic nuclei) trapped within.

Solar flares occur when the sun's magnetic field is twisted into knots by the movement of superheated plasma around the sun's surface. The solar activity has been linked to increased aurora activity in the northern skies.

The second storm was an X9.3, the strongest since 2005 and severe enough to cause the sun to spew out plasma from its surface in a coronal mass ejection.

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