Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation that release gases, plasma and other matter into the solar system. NASA cameras captured images of solar flares, at least two significant, at 7:42 AM ET Tuesday and 8:52 AM ET, respectively. The images were captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which ensures that the Sun remains under observation throughout the day.
The first flare—a powerful X2.2 class—was unusually bright, as captured by the cameras. The second flare captured on Tuesday was classified as an X1.5 flare. X-class flares are the most powerful flares, the M-class flares being of lesser power, followed by the less potent C-class flares.
Solar flares are not uncommon and have been increasingly captured in recent years. A few large- and medium-size flares have already been recorded by NASA in 2014. The radiation from a flare, though detrimental, cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere but when powerful enough as the first explosion that took place on Tuesday, can disturb GPS and communications signals, NASA said. Also, when aimed at the Earth, the more intense solar flares can create problems for the power grids of the Earth, endangering astronauts and satellites in space. Nonetheless, even with all its power, the sun does not have enough energy to toss a solar flare in the atmosphere 93 million miles at the Earth.
The explosions could have disrupted high-frequency radio communications of Earth; however, NASA scientists said that the short-lived explosions posed no threat to humankind. There are no chances of a coronal mass ejection, that is, a burst of plasma sent out from the sun, due to the first powerful flare; however, officials with the prediction center said that they will continue the analysis of data collected.
There is a chance of more flares being witnessed in the following days, traveling in a more direct path toward the Earth as the Sun rotates. Even though effects of the short-term flares have not been seen on Earth as of now, the radiation from probable flares may cause radio wave disturbances to electronics.