The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 12:06 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2017 captured on video below. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares, among the solar system's mightiest eruptions, are tremendous explosions in the atmosphere of the Sun capable of releasing as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT. Caused by the sudden release of magnetic energy, in just a few seconds flares can accelerate solar particles to very high velocities, almost to the speed of light, and heat solar material to tens of millions of degrees. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
To see how this event may affect Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.
This flare is classified as an X8.2-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
This flare is the capstone on a series of flares from Active Region 2673, which was identified on Aug. 29 and is currently rotating off the front of the sun as part of our star's normal rotation.
At 4:51 p.m. EDT, on Monday, April 2, 2001, the sun unleashed the biggest solar flare ever recorded, as observed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite. The flare was definitely more powerful than the famous solar flare on March 6, 1989, which was related to the disruption of power grids in Canada. This recent explosion from the active region near the sun's northwest limb hurled a coronal mass ejection into space at a whopping speed of roughly 7.2 million kilometers per hour. Luckily, the flare was not aimed directly towards Earth.
Solar ejections are often associated with flares and sometimes occur shortly after the flare explosion. Coronal mass ejections are clouds of electrified, magnetic gas weighing billions of tons ejected from the Sun and hurled into space with speeds ranging from 12 to 1,250 miles per second. Depending on the orientation of the magnetic fields carried by the ejection cloud, Earth-directed coronal mass ejections cause magnetic storms by interacting with the Earth's magnetic field, distorting its shape, and accelerating electrically charged particles (electrons and atomic nuclei) trapped within.
The Daily Galaxy via NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory