Sun Unleashes Biggest Solar Flare for Over a Decade Causing Radio Blackout

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The current solar cycle began in December 2008 and is now decreasing in its intensity and leading towards minimum activity yet sunspots may continue to flare up in the coming days.

The two flares occurred Wednesday morning at 5:10am and 8:02am EDT.

Solar flares typically erupt from or near sunspots, which are cooler areas on the surface of the Sun associated with localized buildups in the star's powerful magnetic field. The United States Space Agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory detected these facts and also captured images.

The Solar Heliospheric Obervatory in space also noticed the CME but SpaceWeather.com said that analysts are also still trying to figure out if it could potentially reach Earth. During the Sun's rotation, the magnetic loops become wrapped becoming tighter as the rotation progresses.

The region has shot out five relatively large flares since September 4, according to NASA. NASA notes that the X-class is the most intense type of flare and the number gives detail on how strong the flare was. Each category represents a tenfold increase in energy, so that M flares are 10 times stronger than C flares, and X flares are 10 times stronger than M flares (and 100 times stronger than C flares).

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Solar flares are bright flashes of radiation that come from magnetically active regions on the surface of the sun. The biggest solar flare of all time was a humungous X28 back in 2003, which luckily was at an oblique angle to Earth, so we managed to avoid the full brunt.

This led to concern that the flares could cause geomagnetic storms that would then cause problems on Earth. While some older satellites could be hampered when hit with charged particles and strong magnetic fields from the sun, the probe which is providing images of Irma - GOES-16 - is new, having just been launched last November, he noted.

Solar flares occur in sun spots, the cooler regions of the sun.

According to the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the radiations disturbed high-frequency radio communications for one hour on the Earth's side that is facing the sun and low-frequency communications used in navigation. They should be arriving within a few days.

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