NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this imagery of a mid-level solar flare – as seen in the bright flash – around 8:30 pm EDT on April 17, 2016.
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 – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. The flare shown here was of moderate strength and only caused brief radio blackouts, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center.
This video was captured in several wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light, a type of light that is typically invisible to our eyes, but is color-coded in SDO images for easy viewing.
SDO observes the sun constantly to help scientists understand what causes eruptions like these.
Bottom line: NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this imagery of an M6.7 – mid-level -solar flare – as seen in the bright flash – around 8:30 pm EDT on April 17, 2016.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.