Sun unleashes four massive solar flares in two days (PHOTOS)

Published time: May 15, 2013 16:42




The Sun has unleashed four massive solar flares in two days, each emitting energy equivalent to a billion hydrogen bombs. The latest flare on Wednesday might cause geomagnetic storms on Earth affecting satellites and communications systems.

Four significant X-class solar flares left the Sun in just 48
hours, sending powerful bursts of radiation into space, according
to Space Weather website.

The first burst of solar energy was detected on Monday at 2:00
GMT. Fourteen hours later the Sun emitted a stronger X2.8-class
flare, peaking at 16:05 GMT, according to NASA.

The third flare occurred in under 24 hours, peaking at 2:11 GMT
and was classified as an X3.2 flare, the strongest X-class flare of
2013 so far. The latest X1.2-flare occurred on Wednesday at 01:52

These images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory show four X-class flares emitted on May 12-14, 2013 – the first four X-class flares of 2013.Photo from

All of the flares were tens of times the size of Earth,
originating from an AR1748 sunspot, an active region just out of
sight over the left side of the Sun.

The flares were associated with a solar phenomenon, called a
coronal mass ejection (CME). Although the sunspot is not directly
facing Earth, the last flare produced a CME with an Earth-directed
component, the Space Weather website reports.

If the flares associated with CME are directed at Earth they can
cause long lasting radiation storms, according to NASA.

When CME occurs it propels bursts of billions of tons of solar
particles and electromagnetic fluctuations that can reach Earth’s
atmosphere and harm satellites, communications systems, and even
ground-based technologies and power grids.

The March 1989 CME produced by a X15-class solar flare resulting
in a geomagnetic storm that caused the collapse of Hydro-Québec’s
electricity transmission system in Canada.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of the X1.2 class solar flare on May 14, 2013. The image show light with a wavelength of 304 angstroms. Photo from

The latest 2013 flares were of X-class that denotes the most
intense flares. The smallest ones are A-class, followed by B, C, M
and X. The number that follows the class provides information about
its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three
times as intense, and so on.

According to NASA the most powerful flare measured by modern
methods occurred on November 4, 2003 during the previous solar
maximum. It was so strong that the sensors were cut off when
estimating the burst of radiation at X28.

Solar activity is currently ramping up toward what is known as
solar maximum, which is expected in 2013. The solar maximum occurs
approximately every 11 years.

“However, this same solar cycle has occurred over millennia
so anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar
maximum with no harm”
said NASA in a statement.

The coming solar maximum explains the increased numbers of
flares. The largest X-class flare in this cycle so far was an X6.9
on August 9, 2011.

The solar cycle was discovered in 1843 and scientists have been
tracking it ever since.

Photo from

This article originally appeared on : RT