As the sun reaches peak intensity of its 11-year sun cycle, solar flares become increasingly common. This latest solar flare was ejected from the sun at approximately 6:49 p.m. on June 7, 2013 and was powerful enough to disrupt long-range communications.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the images.
An M-class flare appears on the lower right of the sun on June 7, 2013. This image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength of UV light that is particularly good for seeing flares and that is typically colorized in teal.
The flare, classified as an M5.9, was an ejection of moderate intensity capable of producing mild space weather effects around Earth. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported a temporary radio blackout.
Powerful solar flares can disrupt communications by blasting Earth’s ionosphere with X-ray and UV radiation.
M-class solar flares are second only to X-class flares in terms of the amount of energy released.
“Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun's normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013. Humans have tracked this solar cycle continuously since it was discovered in 1843, and it is normal for there to be many flares a day during the sun's peak activity,” said a NASA press release.
This M-class flare comes on the heels of a very active May, during which time three extremely powerful X-class flares were emitted in 24 hours on May 13. Those flares, which left the sun at a whopping 1,400 miles per second, were responsible for an hour-long radio blackout.