NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a powerful “X-class” solar flare that was classified as an X1.2 flare.
- The X1.2 flare erupted from sunspot AR3256 near the southwestern limb of the star in our Solar System.
- It led to a strong shortwave radio blackout in south-east Asia, Australia, and New Zealand
- Solar storms are magnetic plasma ejected at great speed from the solar surface.
- They occur during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots (‘dark’ regions on the Sun that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere), and can last for a few minutes or hours.
- There are 4 classes of solar flares – B, C, M, and X and these are classified on a logarithmic scalesimilar to the Richter scale.
- The class denotes the strength of the flare and the number that comes after it signifies their strength at a finer scale.
- Each class is therefore divided into 9 subdivisions. For example, X1 to X9.
- Solar flares can impact radio communications, electric power grids, and navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.