The Sun emitted a strong solar flare, peaking at 7:57 p.m. EDT on January 5, 2023. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which watches the Sun constantly, captured imagery of the event.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of energy. Flares and solar eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, and navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.
This flare is classified as an X1.2 flare. An X-class solar flare is the most powerful type of solar flare, and it is classified based on the peak flux (in watts per square meter, W/m2) of X-rays emitted by the flare. X-class flares are further divided into subclasses, with X1 being the weakest and X9 being the strongest.
An X1.2 solar flare is a solar flare that falls into the X1 class, but is slightly stronger than an average X1 flare. Specifically, an X1.2 solar flare has a peak flux of 1.2 x 10-4 W/m2. This is still a very powerful event, and it can cause significant disruptions to radio communications and GPS signals on Earth. It can also produce a significant amount of solar energetic particles (SEPs), which can pose a hazard to spacecraft and astronauts in space.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is a spacecraft launched by NASA in 2010 to study the Sun and its influence on Earth. It is part of NASA’s Living with a Star (LWS) program, which seeks to understand the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. The SDO spacecraft is equipped with a suite of instruments that allow it to observe the Sun in multiple wavelengths of light, including ultraviolet, visible, and extreme ultraviolet. The data collected by the SDO is used to improve our understanding of the Sun’s magnetic field, its solar wind, and how the Sun’s activity affects Earth’s climate and environment.