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Earth-Directed Solar Flare
02.13.11
 
Sunspot 1158 unleashed the strongest solar flare of the year › View larger
Credit: NASA/SDO

On Feb. 13th at 1738 UT, sunspot 1158 unleashed the strongest solar flare of the year so far, an M6.6-category X-ray irradiance magnitude blast. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded an intense flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation. The source of this activity, sunspot 1158 is growing rapidly.

Sunspot AR1158 is growing rapidly and poses a threat for Earth-directed M-flares. › View larger
Sunspot AR1158 is growing rapidly and poses a threat for Earth-directed M-flares. Credit: NASA/SDO/HMI

Preliminary coronagraph data from STEREO-B and SOHO agree that the explosion produced a fast but not particularly bright coronal mass ejection (CME). The cloud will likely hit Earth's magnetic field on or about Feb. 15th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

 
 
Tony Phillips/Holly Zell
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center