Biggest solar flare in 4 years, causes minor radio blackout on Earth

The solar flare from the sunspot AR2838 was a powerful X1-class Sun event that caused a brief radio blackout on Earth over the Atlantic Ocean. Read all you need to know.

Created On: Jul 6, 2021 17:17 IST
Solar flare, Source: NASA
Solar flare, Source: NASA

A team of scientists at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on July 3, 2021, reported that the Sun erupted a huge solar flare from a sunspot known as AR2838 at 10.29 am EDT (14.29 GMT). This was the largest solar flare since 2017.

The officials at the US Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), which continuously observes the Sun, said that the solar flare from the sunspot AR2838 was a powerful X1-class Sun event that caused a brief radio blackout on Earth over the Atlantic Ocean.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory also shared a video of the solar flare that shows the flare being emitted from the upper right limb of the Sun. The Observatory captured the solar flare through a spacecraft that is used to observe the Sun.

What is a solar flare?

• As per NASA, a solar flare is described as an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Solar flares are the largest explosive events of our solar systems.

• Flares are seen as bright areas on the Sun that usually eject plasmas and particles (protons, electrons, and heavier particles) through the Sun’s Corona. Flares emit radio waves. If the range of the ejection is towards Earth, the particles can get into Earth’s upper atmosphere and disrupt long-range radio communication or cause bright auroras.

• Solar flares are primarily monitored in x-rays and optical light.

Solar Flares: What is a powerful X1-class Sun event?

• Solar flares are the largest explosions on the Sun that are often associated with Solar Magnetic Storms known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs).

• Based on the categorization system of solar flares, ‘X-class flares’ are the strongest kind of solar flares according to their strength. The smallest class of flares are A-class flares, followed by B, C, M, and X.

• When an X-class solar flare is ejected in Earth’s direction, it can disrupt Earth’s power grids, endanger satellites and astronauts.

• Experts noted that the sunspot AR2838 on July 3, 2021, is the new active region on the Sun and it had emitted an M2 flare which led to a minor radio blackout on Earth over the Atlantic Ocean.

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