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Sun emits X-class solar flare; most powerful detected in years | Technology News

The Sun emitted an incredibly strong solar flare that peaked at 10.30 PM IST on Thursday. The flare was classified as an X2.8 flare and was the most powerful one detected since 2017.

Solar flares usually happen when powerful magnetic fields in and around the Sun “reconnect.” They are classified on the basis of their strength and put into the B, C, M and X classes, with the last being the strongest. Similar to the Richter scale, each step up on the ladder represents a ten-times increase in energy output.

Also, each letter class has a finer scale from 1 to 9. For instance, even though X-class flares are the strongest, there are flares that are ten times as powerful as X1, which is why flares get a number rating along with their letter class. This means that the X2.8 was an especially powerful one. But it is not the most powerful one ever — that would be a flare record in 2003, during the last solar maximum. It was so powerful that it overloaded the sensors measuring it and was later estimated to be about X45.

The flare was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on Thursday.

Radiation from the flare caused a shortwave radio blackout over the Americas, according to SpaceWeather.com. Soon after the blast, the United States Air Force reported a type 1 solar radio burst, which usually comes from the leading edge of a coronal mass ejection, (CME) or a large expulsion of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun’s corona.

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However, it is unlikely to cause very intense geomagnetic storms on Earth since the CME is not directly aimed at our planet. But the CME does have an Earth-directed component and that could cause geomagnetic storms on Sunday, December 17.

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First published on: 15-12-2023 at 1:33 pm IST

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