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Sun Releases X1.1 Class Flare
Close-up of AR1515's X1.1 class solar flare This close-up image captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows the July 6, 2012 X-class flare captured in the 171 Angstrom wavelength. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA
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The sun (AR1515) released an X1.1 class flare on July 6, 2012, peaking at 7:08 PM EDT. This flare caused a radio blackout, labeled as an R3 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations scale that goes from R1 to R5. Such blackouts can cause disruption to both high and low level radio frequencies.

The flare also caused what is know as a solar energetic particle event (SEP), caused by fast particles from the sun traveling behind the flare and impacting Earth's magnetosphere. The magnetosphere also underwent a minor geomagnetic storm on the evening of July 6 in response to relatively slow coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that have erupted from other regions on the sun since July 4.

Early reports of the flare originating from AR1515 were incorrect. The source of the flare was actually AR1514.

Animated Gif of CME associated with July 6, 2012 X1.1 solar flare as seen by SOHO.
This animated gif taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) shows the coronal mass ejection (CME) released by the X.1.1 flare. Initial analysis of the CME cloud by the Goddard Space Weather Lab indicates it should pass south of Earth. Credit: NASA/SOHO

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This movie shows the July 6, 2012 X-class flare in the 171 Angstrom wavelength as captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

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