On March 28, 2023, the Sun emitted a strong solar flare, peaking at 10:33 p.m. ET. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the Sun constantly, captured an image of the event.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of energy. Flares and solar eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts. This flare is classified as an X1.2 flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare – as seen in the bright flash on the bottom right of the Sun – on March 28, 2023. The image shows a subset of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights the extremely hot material in flares and which is colorized in teal. Credit: NASA/SDO
A solar flare is a sudden, intense burst of radiation coming from the sun’s surface. It is caused by a rapid release of magnetic energy stored in the sun’s atmosphere. Solar flares can cause significant disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field and upper atmosphere, which can affect communication systems, power grids, and satellites. They are classified based on their X-ray brightness and are rated as C, M, or X, with X being the most intense.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is a spacecraft launched in 2010 to study the Sun and its impact on Earth. The SDO’s mission is to help scientists understand the Sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space by studying the solar atmosphere and magnetic field. The SDO is equipped with three scientific instruments that continuously observe the Sun in several wavelengths of light, allowing scientists to study the Sun’s dynamics in unprecedented detail. The SDO’s data has been instrumental in improving our understanding of space weather and its impact on Earth.