The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:42 a.m. EDT on June 10, 2014. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory – which typically observes the entire sun 24 hours a day – captured images of the flare. It is seen bursting off the left limb of the sun in this image captured by SDO and is shown in a blend of two wavelengths of light: 171 and 131 angstroms, colorized in gold and red, respectively.
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.
This flare is classified as an X2.2 flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.
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.