The sun emitted a spectacular solar flare off its left side on Tuesday morning, peaking at 7:42 a.m. EDT. And then about an hour later, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory was treated to a second burst, peaking at 8:52 a.m. EDT.
The first (pictured above) was classified as an X2.2 flare, while the second (pictured below) was an X1.5 flare. The X-class designation is reserved for the most intense flares, with an X2 being twice as intense as an X1.
Video and images of the two flares were captured by the observatory, which watches the entire sun, 24 hours a day. According to SDO, this morning, a new active region (dubbed AR2087) rotated into view on the solar disk before promptly emitting the two X-class flares.
If intense enough, these powerful bursts of radiation can disturb our atmosphere in the layer were GPS and communications signals travel. According to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, there were some strong radio blackouts on Tuesday.
Here’s a picture of the second X-class flare of June 10, appearing as a bright flash on the left side. This image shows light in the 193-angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in yellow. It was captured at 8:55 a.m. EDT, just after the flare peaked.
The two flares directed mostly away from Earth. But AR2087 will rotate toward us over the next couple of weeks. “If it remains active, we could have flares off and on for the next two weeks as it crosses the visible face of the sun," Tony Phillips of spaceweather.com tells the Los Angeles Times.
Images: NASA/SDO/Goddard/Wiessinger (top) & NASA/SDO (middle)
Video: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center