This NASA image of solar flares on the Sun looks like a crazy sci-fi movie

A massive solar flare erupted from the surface of the Sun earlier this week. The X-class flare is just the latest flare from the Sun that has caught NASA’s attention. This time, however, NASA managed to capture an image of the solar flare as it happened. It’s a stunning image, and it looks like it was pulled from a sci-fi movie.

Check out this image of a solar flare as it happens

The solar flare peaked around 9:25 a.m. EDT on May 3, 2022, according to NASA. The space agency’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the image of the solar flare. The observatory constantly monitors the Sun for events like this.

It’s all part of the space agency’s attempts to learn more about our Sun and prepare if one of these solar flares erupts towards Earth.

This surge follows a few others that have occurred this week. In fact, at the end of April, the Sun caused the strongest solar flare in five years. Where the last X-class flare was rated X2.2, this new flare was only an X1.1.

X-class solar flares are the most intense flares created by the Sun. As such, it’s always worth keeping an eye out for them when they happen. At the time NASA captured the image of this solar flare, the Space Weather Prediction Center noted a possible severe radio outage.

What happens when a solar flare hits the Earth?

Earth's magnetic field with solar flare could cause electron rain
Earth’s magnetic field prevents energy from solar flares from entering the planet’s atmosphere. image source: koya979 / Adobe

This image of a solar flare may be mind-blowing, but solar flares can be scary happenings. Although the energy from these events cannot enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they can create unwanted side effects. Chief among these side effects is the radio blackouts I mentioned earlier.

When a solar flare hits Earth, the energy from the flare can cause problems with satellites, GPS systems, and even communications systems at high altitudes. Ultimately, however, we have plenty of time before we have to worry about the Sun erupting with enough power to destroy Earth.

The image of this solar flare is just another reminder that the Sun’s current solar cycle is speeding up. NASA and other space agencies expect the solar cycle to peak in the mid-2020s. When that happens, we’ll likely see more X-class solar flares hit.

It’s hard to say if any of these plasma energy eruptions will be directed at Earth.

Previously, we have seen massive bursts of plasma energy erupt from the Sun millions of miles into space. With so much energy stored in our star, it’s only a matter of time before these solar flares become more frequent.

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