On Sunday, NASA’s “Solar Dynamics Observatory” (SDO) probe took pictures of a Category X solar flare — which is the strongest category of eruption — and sent them to Earth. It was registered as a strong solar event by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) in Boulder, Colorado.
The eruption (“flare”) peaked Sunday evening at 10:30 p.m. CEST with a magnitude of X1.0, the US space agency NASA reports on its website. According to the SWPC, energy bursts of this magnitude can cause short-term radio disturbances in parts of the world, among other things.
A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a solar flare that ejects plasma composed mainly of electrons, protons and traces of nuclei of elements such as helium, oxygen and iron. The five classification groups of a “flare” are labeled A, B, C, M, and X, with each group having a measurement scale from 1.0 to 9.9. If a reading reaches 10, the eruption is assigned to the next higher class. The only exception to this is class X, which is open ended.
More than twelve years in space
Launched in early February 2010, the “Solar Dynamics Observatory” orbits at an altitude of 34,600 kilometers in geosynchronous orbit, allowing it to continuously observe our central star. The SDO collects about a terabyte of information every day and transmits it to Earth. Science is particularly interested in how the magnetic field of our central star affects the rest of our solar system, including the Earth.