The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 1:48 p.m. EDT on Sept. 10, 2014. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images of the event. 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. (Source: http://www.nasa.gov/)
A storm of this size hasn’t headed toward Earth in several years, Tom Berger, the director of the Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo., told the Associated Press. But, he added, “we’re not scared of this one.”
This solar flare has the potential to cause massive damage to electrical and communication systems and even pose a health hazard to passengers and crew in high-flying planes.
What is solar Flare?
A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events. They are seen as bright areas on the sun and they can last from minutes to hours. We typically see a solar flare by the photons (or light) it releases, at most every wavelength of the spectrum. The primary ways we monitor flares are in x-rays and optical light. Flares are also sites where particles (electrons, protons, and heavier particles) are accelerated. (Source: http://www.nasa.gov/)
What is a coronal mass ejection or CME?
The outer solar atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields. Where these fields are closed, often above sunspot groups, the confined solar atmosphere can suddenly and violently release bubbles of gas and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections. A large CME can contain a billion tons of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour in a spectacular explosion. Solar material streams out through the interplanetary medium, impacting any planet or spacecraft in its path. CMEs are sometimes associated with flares but can occur independently. (Source: http://www.nasa.gov/)