Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation and are created when complicated magnetic fields suddenly and explosively rearrange themselves.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Laboratory (SDO) has been observing the Sun since the start of its mission in 2010 and constantly capturing changes taking place on its surface.
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On April 17, 2016, a mid-level solar flare erupted from a giant sunspot five times the size of the Earth and the event was captured by the observatory right on time. In the image, a spectacular loop of solar material can be seen rising up off the right side of the Sun’s surface.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. These flares are generated when Sun’s magnetic field suddenly rearranges itself and leads to heavy explosions on its surface. Though, the radiations emitted from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere and directly affect humans on the ground, however when intense enough they can interfere with GPS and communications signals.
The recently captured flare is classified as an M6.7 class flare which are the tenth the size of the most intense flares, the X-class flares and it came from a region on the Sun which is known for its complex magnetic activity. The region called Active Region 2529 is also seen carrying a dark spot or sunspot for many days which has been constantly changing its size and shape and now it has made its way on the Sun’s face. The sunspot is so large that almost five Earths can fit inside it and it was visible from the ground even without the assistance of eye gear.
This is not the first time when researchers observed a flare exploding on Sun’s surface. NJIT’s New Solar Telescope also captured unprecedented images of a recent solar flare occurring in June 2015. Researchers suggest that these images can provide insight into the mechanism of solar flares and how the magnetic energy is transferred from one region of the Sun to another during and after a solar flare takes place. They may also help better understand the complex dynamics of the Sun’s multilayered atmosphere.
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The solar flares were first detected by astronomers Richard Carringtonand Richard Hodgson in 1859. Ever since, scientists are intensively studying this phenomenal solar activity and it is serving as a “natural laboratory for understanding the physical processes of transient energy release throughout the universe.”