SCIENCE Solar flares

Solar flares: Is the sun trying to tell us something?

solar flareThe largest sunspot seen in two decades has been firing off major solar flares for the past week. What’s going on with our sun?

The largest sunspot observed on the sun in more than 20 years has been firing off powerful solar flares for the past week, and it’s still producing strong solar storms.

Today, the huge sunspot erupted with a large solar flare, peaking at around 10:47 a.m. EDT (1447 GMT). The flare caused a strong radio blackout on Earth, according to the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center. This solar flare is the fourth X-flare (the most powerful kind of solar storms) in as many days.

On Sunday (Oct. 26), the giant sunspot unleashed a solar flare, which peaked at about 6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT). The sunspot, called Active Region 12192 (also known as AR 2192), also shot out another powerful flare on Saturday. Today and Sunday’s flares measured in at X2, while Saturday’s is classified as an X1 flare.

Sunday’s X2-class flare was “the third X-class flare in 48 hours, erupting from the largest active region seen on the sun in 24 years,” NASA spokesperson Karen Fox wrote in an update yesterday (Oct. 26). AR 2129 also shot out an X3.1-class flare on Friday (Oct. 24).

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The active region on the sun is also responsible for spewing out two big M-class flares — moderate solar storms — since Friday. The most recent M-class flare (categorized as an M6.7) peaked this morning at about 6:09 a.m. EDT (1009 GMT). read more