August 24, 2015 – NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured an image today as the sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 1:33 a.m MDT on August 24, 2015.
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, but they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
This flare is classified as an M 5.6 class flare. M-class flares are a tenth the size of the most intense flares, the X-class flares. The number provides more information about its strength. An M2 is twice as intense as an M1, an M3 is three times as intense, etc.
This flare was larger than any seen recently and Space Weather Prediction Center forecasters in Boulder, Colorado are analyzing data and imagery from several sources to determine any potential coronal mass ejection (CME) impacts to Earth.
Goddard Space Flight Center built, operates and manages the SDO spacecraft for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. SDO is the first mission of NASA’s Living with a Star Program. The program’s goal is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.
SDO includes an instrument built in partnership with the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) and another built by Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory in Palo Alto, California.