Massive solar flares are largest in the last decade

Massive solar flares are largest in the last decade

Massive solar flares are largest in the last decade

The sun fired off yet another powerful solar flare yesterday (Sept. 10), its seventh in seven days.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun continuously, caught a few different views of last week's flares that can be seen in the above video.

"The X9.3 flare was the largest flare so far in the current solar cycle, the approximately 11-year-cycle during which the sun's activity waxes and wanes". Sunspot region 2673 has now turned away from Earth, but not before unleashing several X-class flares over the past week, one of which is the largest in over a decade and one of the top 10 since records began. That first blast marked the strongest flare since 2015, a record that was promptly broken three hours later when a second X9.3 flare came from the star.

Nasa added in a statement: "The current solar cycle began in December 2008, and is now decreasing in intensity and heading toward solar minimum".

A group of researchers from the Queen's University Belfast and Sheffield University has captured the largest solar flare in around 12 years in the La Palma with the help of the Swedish Solar Telescope.

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"The sun is now in a period of low activity, moving toward what's called solar minimum, when there are few to no solar eruptions", said NASA officials, according to CBS News.

"This is a phase when such eruptions on the sun are increasingly rare, but history has shown that they can nonetheless be intense".

Despite the solar minimum being in sight, the sun has been more active in the past couple weeks than it has been in a very long time.

According to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), these so-called category X eruptions disrupted high-frequency radio communications for one hour on the Earth's side facing the sun and low-frequency communications used in navigation. Caused by the sudden release of magnetic energy, in just a few seconds flares can accelerate solar particles to very high velocities, nearly to the speed of light, and heat solar material to tens of millions of degrees. When CMEs impact the Earth's magnetosphere, they are responsible for geomagnetic storms and enhanced aurora activity.

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