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Published: Mon, September 11, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Scientists told about the radiation storm from a solar flare

Scientists told about the radiation storm from a solar flare

We have corrected the date of the most recent large solar flare. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc. M-class flares are a tenth the size of X-class flares. This is the phase where eruptions from the sun become increasingly rare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured images of both events.

This animation shows both the X2.2 and the X9.3 flares that the Sun emitted on September 6, 2017.

The solar explosions occurred towards the end of the active face of the current sun cycle. That's because the sun is now approaching its solar minimum, which is the bottom end of its 11-year activity cycle in which events like solar flares and CMEs should be an extremely rare occurrence. However, 3 hours later, a second flare erupted.

Flare one was classified by experts as being an X2.2 flare, whereas the second was an X9.3 flare.

The unusual part is that the sun is nearing its "solar minimum".

As NASA pointed out, when magnetic fields rise up from below the sun's surface, they eventually poke through, creating cool, dark patches on the sun. The magnetically filed activities result to an outward blast of energy that dramatically increases the solar surface temperature.

C-class and smaller flares are too weak to noticeably affect Earth. Measuring the strength of flares is similar to the use of the Richter scale for quake magnitude.

According to NICT, the solar flares that occurred around 9 p.m. on September 6 were about 1,000 times more powerful than normal. X category flares carry big amounts of radiation which have an impact on planet Earth. "The impact of the space weather storm will not harm humans and other life forms on Earth as we are protected by the Earth's magnetic field", Sansa said.

Although the solar flare temporarily disabled most of the satellite communications done on that day, NASA also iterated that despite its strength, the radiation from the solar flare will not be able to penetrate through the Earth's protective layer. The electromagnetic pulses were powerful enough to cause widespread radio blackouts.

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