Sun produced strong flare on May 3, 2013

The sun produced a strong solar flare on May 3, 2013. No ill effects on or near Earth are expected, but it did produce some beautiful images.

The sun produced a strong solar flare on May 3, 2013, peaking at 1732 UTC (12:32 p.m. CDT). This was an M5.7-class flare. It is not expected to cause ill effects on Earth’s surface or in near-Earth space, but it did produce some beautiful images. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured the two below.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of an M5.7-class flare on May 3, 2013, at 1:30 p.m. EDT. This image shows light in the 131-angstrom wavelength, a wavelength of light that can show material at the very hot temperatures of a solar flare and that is typically colorized in teal. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of an M5.7-class flare on May 3, 2013, at 1732 UTC (12:32 p.m. CDT). This image shows light in the 131-angstrom wavelength, a wavelength of light that can show material at the very hot temperatures of a solar flare and that is typically colorized in teal. Image via NASA/SDO/AIA.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation from the sun. NASA says:

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. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, and the radio blackout for this flare has already subsided.

A burst of solar material leaps off the left side of the sun in what’s known as a prominence eruption. This image combines three images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured on May 3, 2013, at 1:45 pm EDT, just as an M-class solar flare from the same region was subsiding. The images include light from the 131-, 171- and 304-angstrom wavelengths. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA

This image combines three images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured on May 3, 2013, at 1745 UTC (12:45 p.m. CDT), just as an M-class solar flare from the same region was subsiding. The images include light from the 131-, 171- and 304-angstrom wavelengths. Image via NASA/SDO/AIA.

We have been seeing increased numbers of solar flares over the past year or more, as the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle is ramps up toward solar maximum, expected in late 2013.

Bottom line: The sun produced a strong solar flare on May 3, 2013, peaking at 1732 UTC (12:32 p.m. CDT). This was an M5.7-class flare. It is not expected to cause ill effects on Earth’s surface or in near-Earth space, but it did produce some beautiful images.

Deborah Byrd

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