Updated December 16th, 2023 at 17:31 IST

Watch Now: Sun Throws X-class solar flares, Causing Radio Blackout in the Americas!

The Sun unleashed a powerful X2.8 solar flare on Dec 14, 2023, impacting Earth's communications and power grids, as observed by NASA and the US Air Force

Reported by: Garvit Parashar
Sun throws solar flares named X-class Solar Flare | Image:Twitter
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On Thursday, December 14, The Sun unleashed an X-class solar flare, marking it as the most potent flare in its category. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reported that the Solar Dynamics Observatory managed to capture an image of the incident. "This flare is classified as an X2.8 flare. X-class designates the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength," stated NASA.

"Flares and solar eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts," the NASA statement emphasized. The X2.8 peak occurred at 12:02 pm EST on Tuesday.

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SpaceWeather.com's report revealed that the X2.8 was the most formidable solar flare since September 2017. Moreover, this Thursday's flare induced a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Americas.

What is a solar flare?


According to NASA, a solar flare is an intense burst of radiation resulting from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are considered the largest explosive events in the solar system.
     
The Sun emitted a robust solar flare on December 14, 2023, reaching its peak at 12:02 ET. The Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an image of the event, classified as X2.8. 

— NASA Sun & Space (@NASASun) December 14, 2023

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"They are seen as bright areas on the Sun and they can last from minutes to hours. We typically observe a solar flare by the photons (or light) it releases, at most every wavelength of the spectrum," explained NASA.

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Flares are primarily monitored in X-rays and optical light. These events also serve as locations where particles such as electrons, protons, and heavier particles undergo acceleration.

Powerful flares often coincide with coronal mass ejections (CMEs). According to the SpaceWeather report, a CME was linked to Tuesday's flare, likely with an Earth-directed component.

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The US Air Force reported a Type II solar radio burst, typically originating from the leading edge of a CME. The report added that, based on the drift rate of the radio burst, the emerging CME's velocity could exceed 2,100 km/s.

 

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Published December 16th, 2023 at 17:31 IST