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Sun unleashes monster X-class solar flare

Sun unleashes monster X-class solar flare

NASA captures the sun's most intense X-class solar flare on video, the most powerful one recorded since September 2017.

We've been lucky to witness some amazing footage from outside of our planet, from the first ever image captured of Earth by multi-purposed missiles to suspended astronauts in the vastness of space.

To add to the list, just recently, NASA has documented another of marvel of space that us regular people would never have had the privilege to witness.

On December 14 at 12.02 pm EST (5.02pm GMT), our sun unleashed an X-class solar flare, emitting a pulse of high-energy radiation.

Luckily for us, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft recorded the whole outburst on video.

The solar flares were confirmed to be X2.8 / ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
The solar flares were confirmed to be X2.8 / ANDRZEJ WOJCICKI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Solar physicists categorise the solar flares into three groups; B and C as the weakest, M for the middle group, and X as the 'most potent' of them all.

The strength of the flare is reflected in the numbers ranging from 1 to 9, ascending from weak to strong. The sun's recent outburst of flare was registered as X2.8 classing it as the most intense solar flare since September 2017.

Although rare, solar flares have been recorded to go above 9 - the last recorded case of this was back in 2003. It was initially read as X17, but later confirmed to be X45.

Whilst the radiation blasted from the solar flares is harmful, the Earth's atmosphere prevents it from reaching our planet's ground.

Instead, it affects our GPS and communication satellites, causing radio blackouts.

SpaceWeather wrote that the solar flare 'caused a deep shortwave radio blackout over the Americas.'

NASA expands that the 'powerful bursts of energy' can cause flares and solar eruptions, 'posing risk to spacecraft and astronauts.'


The sun's powerful flares are often accompanied by coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which send huge clouds of solar plasma ejecting into space at millions of miles per hour. These can reach Earth in just a matter of days.

SpaceWeather reported that the CME interacted with 'an Earth-directed component.'

They said: 'The US Air Force is reporting a Type II solar radio burst, which typically comes from the leading edge of a CME. Based on the drift rate of the radio burst, the emerging CME's velocity could exceed 2,100 km/s (4.7 million mph).'

The extent of the size, scope and heading of the CMS is still too early to tell, however scientists are optimistic to reach a conclusion.

NASA believes we may expect to see more solar flares in the near future as the sun is becoming 'more and more active these days.'

Most current cases of solar flares in the M class have led to the viewings of Northern Lights - typically in the northern parts of the US.