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X-Class Solar Flares

X-Class Solar Flares:

Earth was recently hit by an X-class solar flare strong enough to ionize part of the planet’s atmosphere.

  • Solar flares are large explosions that occur at the sun’s surface when twisted magnetic field lines suddenly snap, emitting large bursts of electromagnetic radiation.
  • They are seen as bright areas on the sun and they can last from minutes to hours.
  • In a matter of just a few minutes, they heat the material to many millions of degrees and produce a burst of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, including from radio waves to x-rays and gamma rays.
  • Although solar flares can be visible in white light, they are often more readily noticed via their bright X-ray and ultraviolet emissions.
  • The intense radiation emitted during a solar flare can affect satellite communications, disrupt radio signals and even pose a risk to astronauts in space.
  • Additionally, the increased solar radiation can lead to geomagnetic storms, which may impact power grids and cause auroras (northern and southern lights).
  • Flares are classified according to their strength. The smallest ones are B-class, followed by C, M and X, the largest.
  • Similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a ten-fold increase in energy output.