The Sun Lets Loose Its Biggest Flare of the Year (So Far)

This morning at 3:16 AM Eastern time a spot on the sun exploded in a M6.5 flare.
More

740798main_20130411-M6flare-orig_full-1500.jpg The sun captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in wavelengths of 131 and 171 Angstroms. Click to expand. (NASA)

This morning at 3:16 AM Eastern time a spot on the sun emitted its strongest flare of the year so far, and NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught this image of it.

The flare was classified as an M6.5, not the most massive (those are X-class), but large enough that it caused a "moderate" radio blackout (level R2) that, according to NASA, "has since subsided." The Earth's atmosphere protects humans and other life on the planet from the radiation that solar flares emit. 

Close-up view:

740799main1_20130411-M6flare-6701500.jpgThe sun captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in wavelengths of 131 and 171 Angstroms. Click to expand. (NASA)



Update 2:26 pm: NASA has now additionally posted some information about a Coronal Mass Ejection associated with this morning's flare that left the sun at a speed of 600 mps* and could reach Earth in one to three days' time. Coronal Mass Ejections, or CMEs, are the release of charged solar particles into space and are what create the phenomenon known as aurorae at our planet's poles. The Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured a series of images of today's CME between 3:48 and 4:36 this morning (Eastern time). Mars is labeled at left.

740855main1_20130411-cmeC2-670.jpgNASA *Correction: I accidentally had this originally as 600 mph, when I most definitely meant miles per *second*. Apologies for the error. Thanks to Cathey Thomas for pointing this out via email.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Rebecca J. Rosen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where she oversees the Business Channel. She was previously an associate editor at The Wilson Quarterly.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In