On Saturday, July 3, the sun surprised us with a surprising solar flare. It was the largest solar flare since 2017. This was an early explosion of cosmic fireworks in advance of the Fourth of July.
At 10:29 a.m. ET (1429 GMT), the solar flare was caused by a sunspot named AR2838. According to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center, (SWPC), which tracks the sun's weather, it registered as a powerful X1 class sun event. Officials from the center said that it caused a brief radio blackout.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the solar flare as it erupted from the upper right hand limb of the star. This video was taken by the spacecraft, which is one of many used for monitoring the sun's weather.
Photo: The Sun's Wrath - Worst Solar Storms of History
On July 3, 2021, the sun explodes with an X1.5-class solar eruption. This view was taken from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The flare is visible at the top right. (Image credit to Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA).
The strongest type of solar flares is the X-class. The most powerful solar flares can be directed directly at Earth and cause damage to satellites and astronauts. Also, moderate M-class solar flares are capable of dazzling the auroras on Earth with their dazzling displays.
Sunspot AR2838, which fired off Saturday's flare, is a new active region on sun.
Officials from SWPC wrote that the sunspot region was formed overnight and was responsible for the M2 flare (R1 Minor Radio Blackout) on 03/07/2017 UTC.
Photos: The Sun's monster X9.3 Solar Flare, Sept. 6, 2017.
This graphic is from the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Group and shows the powerful X1-class solar radiation from the sun on July 3, 2021 (left), as well as the area of Earth that was briefly blacked out by the event. Space Weather Prediction Group, image credit
Spaceweather.com, which tracks space weather events reported that the sunspot's big eruption registered as a class of X1.5 on the scale that is used to track sun events. It has since rotated to the other side of the sun.
Spaceweather.com reported that the sunspot was gone today, "as quickly as it appeared." It rotated over the sun’s northern limb on July 4th and will transit the far side of it for the next two weeks.
The 11-year cycle of the sun's weather is characterized by active phases and years with relative solar quiescence. The current solar cycle 25, also known as solar cycle 25, began in 2020.
Tariq Malik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @tariqjmalik. Follow us @Spacedotcom on Facebook and Instagram.