Recently, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a powerful “X-class” solar flare that was classified as an X1.2 flare.
GS III: Science and Technology
Dimensions of the Article:
- About Solar flares
- The X1.2 flare erupted from sunspot AR3256 near the southwestern limb of the star in our Solar System.
- It led to a strong shortwave radio blackout in south-east Asia, Australia, and New Zealand
About Solar flares
- Solar flares are magnetic plasma ejected from the Sun’s surface during the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots.
- They can last for a few minutes or hours and are classified into 4 classes – B, C, M, and X – based on their strength.
- Solar flares are classified on a logarithmic scale similar to the Richter scale.
- The class denotes the strength of the flare, and the number that comes after it signifies their strength at a finer scale. Each class is divided into 9 subdivisions.
Solar flares can have significant impacts on various technological systems, including:
- Radio Communications: They can disrupt or even completely black out radio communication systems, especially those that operate in the high-frequency bands.
- Electric Power Grids: They can cause power outages and damage to transformers and other electrical equipment.
- Navigation Signals: They can disrupt GPS signals, which are used for navigation by aircraft, ships, and other vehicles.
- Spacecraft and Astronauts: They can pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts by exposing them to high levels of radiation, which can damage equipment and harm human health.
X-class flares, which are the strongest, can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. Therefore, it is important for scientists to monitor and predict solar flares to minimize their impacts on technological systems and human health.
-Source: The Hindu