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Sun Emits a Medium-Intensity Solar Flare
07.30.12
 
SDO captured this image of the M6.2 class solar flare on July 28, 2012. › View full disk image
On July 28, 2012, the sun emitted a mid-level flare, categorized as an M6.2 flare. The flare is visible here in the lower left-hand side, coming from an active region on the sun named AR 1532. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in teal and which is a particularly good wavelength for observing flares. Credit: NASA/SDO


The sun emitted a mid-level flare, peaking at 4:55 PM EDT on July 28, 2012.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, anywhere from minutes to hours.

This image of the Sun has sunspot 1532 circled. It is the source of all flare activity since rotating into view on July 27, 2012. Centered sunspots 1530, 1529 and 1528 are also present. › View larger
This image of the Sun has sunspot 1532 circled. It is the source of all flare activity since rotating into view on July 27, 2012. Credit: SDO/HMI
This flare is classified as an M6.2 flare. M-class flares are the weakest flares that can still cause some space weather effects near Earth. They can cause brief radio blackouts at the poles.

Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun's normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in 2013.

Updates will be provided as needed.


What is a solar flare? What is a coronal mass ejection?

For answers to these and other space weather questions, please visit the Spaceweather Frequently Asked Questions page.

Related Link
› View Past Solar Eruptions
 
 
Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD