The sun was active on Friday! NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a powerful an X1 flare on the sun early on Friday, and then again about 7 hours later. X-flares are the most powerful solar flares. The first flare peaked on October 25, 2013 at 0801 UTC (3:01 a.m. CDT in the U.S.). The second X-class solar flare, an X2, peaked at 1503 UTC (10:03 a.m. CDT). And this might not be the end of the flare activity. We’ll keep you updated, and you might also check with NASA’s SDO page about these events.
Meanwhile, the NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center recorded two strong (but temporary) radio blackouts Friday. Both were categorized as R3 blackouts, which are typically associated with X-flares from the sun.
There was no indication of a coronal mass ejection (CME) from either solar flare. A CME aimed in Earth’s direction can cause geomagnetic storms, creating beautiful displays of northern lights, aka the aurora borealis. A CME in this case, however, would be unlikely to cause geomagnetic storm activity because the X-flares were located to one side of the sun, and the CME would not be launched in our direction.
The video below shows the first X-flare, which occurred early in the morning on October 25, according to clocks in the U.S.
New sunspot AR1882, which rotated over the sun’s eastern limb earlier today, promptly unleashed an X1-class solar flare, adding to a series of lesser flares already underway from sunspots AR1875 and AR1877.
There may be more to this flare than meets the eye … The X1-flare was bracketed by two erupting magnetic filaments, each located hundreds of thousands of kilometers from AR1882. In other words, the X1 flare might have been just one piece of an interconnected global eruption.
Today’s two X-flares follow a mid-level solar flare on October 23.
Bottom line: On Friday, October 25, 2013, the sun released two X-flares, the most powerful kind of solar flares, causing two temporary radio blackouts.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.