The Sun since April 19 has released several moderate to strong solar flares. A solar flare is a sudden release of magnetic energy that poses a threat if directed towards Earth. On April 30, American space agency NASA managed to capture an image of a solar flare using its Solar Dynamics Observatory and posted the picture on its Instagram handle. The picture itself is breathtaking and one can see the solar flare in the upper right portion of the image.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory’s main purpose is to understand how the Sun affects our planet as well as near-Earth space by studying the Sun’s interior, magnetic field, atmosphere, and energy output. Solar flares themselves do not impact human beings negatively but can cause havoc to the technology we rely on due to the release of magnetic energy.
If ever directed towards the Earth, solar flares which are strong can adversely impact power grids, radio communications, navigational systems and can even pose a serious threat to any spacecraft’s launching or even astronauts housed on the International Space Station.
On its official Instagram handle, NASA has written that “missions study flares to help us prepare for and better mitigate their impact”.
On April 20, CESSI which is the Centre of Excellence in Space Sciences (India), had reported that there was a potentially dangerous solar flare that can disrupt satellite communications and global positioning systems. The flare was classified as an X-Class which denotes the most intense flare.
According to NASA, similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. An X-class flare is 10 times an M-class eruption and 100 times a C-class flare.