NASA officially releases video of the biggest solar flare in last 20 years

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the biggest solar flare in the last 20 years, which is also the biggest of this solar cycle.

1 minute & 28 seconds read time

It was only recently that NASA confirmed a massive solar flare taking place on the surface of the Sun, with officials confirming its the biggest solar eruption of the last 20 years and this 11-year cycle.

The solar flare took place at 12:51 pm ET on May 14 and was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. For those that don't know, a solar flare happens when the Sun's magnetic field lines are contorted and snap, resulting in a massive outburst of X-rays and ultraviolet radiation. These solar eruptions can significantly impact Earth by causing interference with satellite communications, power grids and GPS signals.

Additionally, a solar flare can typically be paired with a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is a blast of solar plasma, or charged particles. When these charged particles either from the CME or the initial flare hit Earth they can produce auroras to appear at lower altitudes, or further south than they typically do. NASA JPL compiled the images of the May 14 solar flare and placed them into a video, which can be seen above.

"A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation, or light, on the Sun. Flares are our solar system's most powerful explosive events. Light only takes about 8 minutes to travel from the Sun to Earth, so that's how long it would take the energy from a flare to reach our planet. Stronger solar flares - those rated class M5 or above - can have impacts on technology that depends on Earth's ionosphere (our electrically charged upper atmosphere), like high-frequency radio used for navigation and GPS," writes NASA

The May 14 solar flare measured as an X8.7, with "X" being the most powerful category for a solar flare. Furthermore, the Sun is currently on its way to reaching its solar maximum, or the peak of its 11-year solar cycle. Researchers estimate the Sun will hit its peak in activity sometime in 2025, if not sooner.

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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