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EarthSky // Science Wire, Space Release Date: May 08, 2014

Mid-level solar flare erupts from sun on May 8

The May 8 solar flare is classified as an M5.2-class flare. M-flares are about one-tenth as strong as the most intense flares, called X-flares.

The bright light on the left side of the sun shows an M5.2-class solar flare on May 8, 2014.   Image via NASA/SDO

The bright light on the left side of the sun shows an M5.2-class solar flare on May 8, 2014. Image via NASA/SDO

NASA reports that the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare on Thursday (May 8, 2014), peaking at 10:07 UTC (6:07 a.m. EDT). NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, or SDO, captured the image above. This flare is classified as an M5.2-class flare. M-flares are about one-tenth as strong as the most intense flares, called X-flares.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. However, particularly strong solar flares that occur at such a time when their effects are aimed in our direction can disturb Earth’s atmosphere. These effects from solar storms affect the layer of our atmosphere where GPS and communications signals travel.

Are solar storms dangerous to us?