NASA Reveals Image of Massive Explosion on Sun
NASA used a research satellite to photograph a huge explosion on the sun. The image is impressive. But the rays from the eruption also impact the Earth.
huhhot, dynamic, explosive: that is our sun. The huge star is a bundle of gas, plasma and energy – causing explosions on the surface of the sun from time to time. This is illustrated by an image NASA published on Instagram.
On October 2, around 10 p.m. CET, the American space agency was able to photograph a so-called solar flare. “The sun is not inactive,” NASA wrote on the social network. It is “a dynamic object that is constantly changing and causing weather conditions in space.”
The spectacular image, which shows the solar flare as a bright region in the upper left corner, was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite. But as impressive as the explosion looks, it also has a negative impact on us on Earth.
NASA explains: When it boils on the sun
Solar flares, also called flares, are eruptions on the surface of the sun that give off electromagnetic radiation. Such explosions can last from a few minutes to several hours and vary in strength, which is why they are classified differently.
The latest eruption is classified as an X1 eruption, according to NASA. Scientists use the letter “X” to describe high-intensity explosions. This is followed by solar flares of categories M, C, B and at the lowest level A. The number after the letter can vary from one to nine and indicates the size of the eruption even more precisely. One is weak and nine is strong.
After Hurricane Ian: Solar flare caused radio interference in Florida
Solar flares do not actually pose a direct threat to us humans. “The harmful radiation cannot penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere to reach people on the surface,” according to the US space agency. However, if an eruption is strong enough, it can significantly affect our GPS systems and radio networks – and with almost immediate effect. This is because electromagnetic radiation travels at the speed of light.
The most recent X1 eruption shows the impact an eruption can have on our telecommunications systems: According to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the eruption caused an R3 radio outage in the country. The highest level is R5. The states of Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina were hardest hit, where rescue workers were deployed after Hurricane “Ian”. Due to radio interference, some rescue operations and civil defense measures were delayed by several hours.
Solar activity: The sun’s magnetic field tilts every 11 years
How often such flares occur and how strong they are can only be predicted to a limited extent. About every eleven years the magnetic field of the celestial body tilts: the north and south poles of the sun switch places. This constant change affects solar activity — that is, how the extremely hot gas in the star behaves.
For example, satellite data makes it possible to detect sunspots. This means dark areas on the photosphere, ie the visible surface of the sun, where the gas is slightly cooler. Eruptions can also be recorded, but only precalculated with limited probability.
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