Solar Flare

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Recently, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a powerful “X-class” solar flare that was classified as an X1.2 flare.

Why in news?

  • The X1.2 flare erupted from sunspot AR3256 near the southwestern limb of the star in our Solar System.
  • It led to a strong shortwave radio blackout in south-east Asia, Australia, and New Zealand

Key facts about Solar Flare

  • What is it? Solar storms are magnetic plasma ejected at great speed from the solar surface.
  • They occur during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots (‘dark’ regions on the Sun that are cooler than the surrounding photosphere), and can last for a few minutes or hours.
  • There are 4 classes of solar flares - B, C, M, and X and these are classified on a logarithmic scale similar to the Richter scale.
  • The class denotes the strength of the flare and the number that comes after it signifies their strength at a finer scale.
  • Each class is therefore divided into 9 subdivisions. For example, X1 to X9.

What are the impacts of Solar Flares?

  • Solar flares can impact radio communications, electric power grids, and navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.
  • X-class flares can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.


Q1) What is Magnetic energy?

Magnetic energy is the energy associated with a magnetic field. It is generated due to electric charges in motion. The Magnetic fields are generated by permanent magnets, electromagnets, and changing electric fields.

Source: Powerful ‘X-class’ solar flare slams Earth, causes radio blackouts. There could be more.