The sun unleashed its strongest solar flare of the year on Tuesday, though the massive storm shouldn’t pose a danger to Earth. The powerful X3.3 solar flare peaked at 5:12 pm EST on Tuesday from the AR1890 sunspot.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Orbiter captured a beautiful high-definition video of the event as it erupted from the sun. The material ejected during the X-class flare probably won’t create any issues for earth, according to officials.
Space.com reports that National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center officials explained on Wednesday:
“No geometric disturbance is expected from this event. However, Region 1890 remains potent and well-positioned, so keep tabs of activity here.”
An X-class solar flare is the most potent kind the sun can give off. Before Tuesday’s event, the most powerful flare of the year was an X3.2 event in May during a hyperactive week where the sun fired off three major flares in one day, notes NBC News.
The major flare isn’t a surprise, since the sun is currently in the peak of its 11-year Solar Cycle 24. It fired off several smaller X-class solar flares in late October as well. No major disruptions are expected from the latest flare, but the Earth won’t be completely untouched from the event.
Tuesday’s flare caused a radio blackout and a “magnetic crochet,” or a disturbance in the planet’s magnetic field that happens while the flare is in progress. The magnetic crochet is a rare cosmic sight that normally happens during fast flares. Unlike coronal mass ejections, which only affect the magnetic field after the flare ends, a magnetic crochet disrupts the field during the flare.
Astronomer Tony Phillips commented that more flares could be on the heels of Tuesday’s. He wrote in an update on Spaceweather.com, “More eruptions are in the offing. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45 percent chance of M-class solar flares and a 10 percent chance of X-flares on Nov. 6.”
Scientists have been tracking space weather incident, including solar flares, since 1843. X-class flares, like Tuesday’s, can post a threat to satellites and astronauts in orbit depending on where they are aimed.
[Image by NASA/SDO]