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X2.1 Solar Flare and CME
This movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows the X2.1 flare in the 171 Angstrom wavelength with a graph from GOES15 of the x-ray strength at the top. Credit: NASA/SDO/LMSAL/GOES
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Sunspot 1283 erupted with another flare yesterday that peaked at 6:20 PM ET. This was an X2.1 class flare, some four times stronger than the earlier flare. Flares can affect Earth's ionosphere, through which high frequency radio waves travel, and cause radio blackouts. This strength flare can cause a "strong" radio blackout, categorized as R3, which has the potential to cause about an hour-long blackout.

This flare, too, had a coronal mass ejection (CME) – an eruption of a giant cloud of solar material -- associated with it. Early models suggest that both CMEs will not travel directly toward Earth, but perhaps just graze our atmosphere in the North, potentially causing auroras in the northern latitudes.

Further updates on the event will be provided as they become available.

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.


Karen C. Fox
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center