On Thursday, Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured a p11.31 am the sun emitting a mid-level solar flare that peaked at 1.01 a.m. EST (11.31 am IST). Solar flares are intense bursts of electromagnetic radiation that can last anywhere from a few minutes to several hours. The flare was classified by Nasa as an M5.5 class flare, which means it was a moderately severe x-ray flare.
The US space agency reported that on Jan. 20, 2022, the sun unleashed a mid-level solar flare that peaked at 1:01 a.m. EST.
While dangerous radiation from a flare cannot physically touch humans on the ground, it can disrupt radio communications, electric power grids, and navigation signals and pose a risk to spacecraft and astronauts if it is strong enough. According to Nasa, increasing X-ray and extreme ultraviolet radiation cause ionization in the ionosphere’s lower layers on Earth’s sunlit side.
When a powerful enough solar flare occurs, radio waves that interact with electrons in layers lose energy due to more frequent collisions in the lower levels of the ionosphere’s higher density environment. This could cause HF radio transmissions to degrade and be completely absorbed, resulting in a radio blackout.
Solar flares are most common in active zones, which are locations on the Sun defined by the presence of high magnetic fields and are often connected with sunspot groups. These magnetic fields can reach a point of instability and release energy in a variety of ways as they grow. On its website, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center explains, “These include electromagnetic radiation, which is observed as solar flares.”