Images of mid-level solar flare captured by NASA's SDO! - See pic

For those who are unaware, solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. 

Last Updated: Apr 19, 2016, 14:07 PM IST
Images of mid-level solar flare captured by NASA's SDO! - See pic
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this imagery of a solar flare – as seen in the bright flash – around 8:30 p.m. EDT on April 17, 2016. (Image courtesy: NASA/SDO/Goddard)

New Delhi: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory has been keeping a constant eye on the movements and changes in the sun, since 2010.

However, NASA's team was in for a surprise, when they noticed an obtrusive mid-level solar flare emitted by the sun.

The event was captured at 8:29 pm EDT on April 17, 2016.

For those who are unaware, 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.

According to NASA, this flare is classified as an M6.7 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.

NASA further reported that the flare came from an area of complex magnetic activity on the sun – known as an active region, and in this case labelled Active Region 2529 – which has sported a large dark spot, called a sunspot, over the past several days. This sunspot has changed shape and size as it slowly made its way across the sun’s face over the past week and half. For much of that time, it was big enough to be visible from the ground without magnification and is currently large enough that almost five planet Earths could fit inside. This sunspot will rotate out of our view over the right side of the sun by April 20, 2016. Scientists study such sunspots in order to better understand what causes them to sometimes erupt with solar flares.