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NASA’s stunning image of solar flare signals yet another solar storm; Is Earth in harm’s way?

Solar flares do not impact human beings negatively by themselves but the release of magnetic energy can wreak havoc to the technology humans rely upon.

solar flare
Of the five solar flares, three were classified as strong. (File/NASA)

Since April 19, the sun has released numerous moderate-to-strong solar flares — a sudden burst of magnetic energy that poses a threat if directed towards the Earth. Of the five solar flares, three were classified as strong.

On April 30, NASA captured an image of a solar flare using the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The picture is breathtaking, with the solar flare in the upper right portion.

In a post on its official Instagram account, NASA said: “Our Sun has been a little extra over the last two weeks with five moderate to strong solar flares – sudden releases of magnetic energy.”

“The Sun emits solar flares occasionally, though they don’t always impact humans on Earth.”  

The main purpose of the Solar Dynamics Observatory is to understand how the sun affects the Earth and near-Earth space by studying the sun’s interior, atmosphere, magnetic field, and energy output. Solar flares do not impact human beings negatively by themselves but the release of magnetic energy can wreak havoc to the technology humans rely upon.

If directed towards the Earth, strong solar flares can adversely affect radio communications, power grids, navigational systems and can even seriously threaten any spacecraft’s launching or even astronauts on the International Space Station.

The US space agency wrote on Instagram that the “missions study flares to help us prepare for and better mitigate their impact”.

On April 20, the Centre of Excellence in Space Sciences (India) reported that there was a potentially dangerous solar flare that could disrupt global positioning systems and satellite communications. It classified the flare as an X-Class, denoting the most intense flare.

NASA said each letter in the classification represented a 10-fold increase in energy output, similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes. An X-class flare is 10 times an M-class flare and 100 times a C-class eruption.

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