Learn How Solar Flares Are Classified
Did You Know That Solar Flares Are Classified In A Scale Just Like Earthquakes?
Watch this NASA video to learn how solar flares are classified, how they are formed, and more facts about the sun. Then, next time you hear about solar flares, solar storms, magnetic storms, and such things as the sun releasing and X-10, or a M1 flare, you will know what it and what to expect from it.
Enjoy the video!
CREDIT: NASA – Goddard Space Flight Center – S. Wiessinger
Solar flares are classified as A-class, B-class, C-class, and M and X-class. X-class flares being the strongest. These classification of solar flares are divided into 1 to 9, according to their strength, except X-class flares. X-class flares are the strongest, of course, and can their classification can go from 1 to 9 and above, according to their strength.
Each letter, in the solar flare classification, represents a 10 times the increase of energy output of the flare. X-class flares for example, are ten times the energy output of an M-Class flare, and 100 times that of a C-class flare.
M-class flares can cause radio communication blackouts at the polar regions of the Earth, and minor radiation that can affect astronauts in space.
X-Class flares obviously result in major radio and technology disruption, and dangerous levels of radiation upon the Earth, and in the Earth’s near space. It can also cause major disruption in the interplanetary medium, and affect the Earth’s inner core, and damage the magnetosphere of the Earth, disrupting the Van Belts, which is a shield which protects the Earth from high levels of solar radiation.
X-class flares disruptions on the ionosphere, and stratosphere as well as the Earth’s inner core can cause great natural catastrophes upon the Earth, such as natural disasters as hurricanes, tornadoes, tectonic plate shift and mega earthquakes, dangerous storms, and temporary changes in weather pattern that can affect and even damage agriculture, and fishery, besides diseases associated with high level of radiation, such as cancer, behavior change, and even vascular diseases, such as heart disease and heart attacks.
So as you can see, paying attention to Space Weather Reports as important for our individual safety and welfare as it is important to pay attention to climate weather reports.
So what are solar flares?
Solar flares are eruptions on the corona of the heliosphere a (the sun). These eruptions cause massive release of energy, light, and high speed particles derived from coronal mass ejections (CMEs) of plasma into space. These explosions happen when the magnetic fields in and around the sun reconnect, usually at cooler areas in the corona called sun spots, which are the active regions of the heliosphere and also where the magnetic fields are strongest.
Solar flare activity increases every 11 years, when the sun enters a phase called solar maximum.
The next solar maximum, for our sun, will be in the year 2013, as it is right now only in the transition from solar minima (little or not solar storm activity) to solar maxima or in full solar storm activity.
What does it all mean?
It means that from now (2011—2012) till 2013, there will be an increase in solar flares. Some of the lesser class or A-class to C-class, and some that will be large in the M- class range, and there might even be massive flares which are classified as X-class from X1 and above.
These flares can cause harmful levels of radiation on Earth, which can affect our health, our astronauts in space, and even interrupt communication or damage our power grid.
Solar flares are notorious for causing beautiful aurorae in the polar regions, north and south pole. And for this reason, a great number of people are not well informed about the harm being done to and on the Earth, associated with beautiful aurorae.
Besides the polar regions, beautiful aurorae, can form anywhere on Earth, according to the strength of the solar flare and the solar storm it produces.
During the last solar maximum, of 2003, it was so powerful that it overloaded the sensors equipment measuring it, at X-17. The flare was later analyzed at an X-45. That is a huge flare, with capacity to incapacitate many of Earth’s technological instruments, such as electrical power disruption, aviation communication systems and threat of radiation to passengers flying near the north pole region, GPs applications, satellites operations such as causing the drag to slow down and satellites to fall from orbit or damage satellite communication and operation systems, deep space missions can be affected by CME impact and charged energized subatomic particles carried by the solar wind through the interplanetary system, as well as manned space flights, such as our astronauts in the space station and in the space shuttle, can all be affected by a strong solar flare.
satellites in space, interrupt communications transmission systems, and had the potential to harm aircraft passangers flying near the poles of the Earth, with radiation, as well as to cause global power blackouts.
The biggest X-class flares make loops of solar plasma many times the size of Earth, on the surface of the sun. This happens when magnetic fields cross over and connect to and adjacent field, usually near or at sun spots. This reconnection process can sometimes produce an eruption of the strength a billion hydrogen bombs.
When those flares and associated CME happen facing the Earth. The solar wind pushes those energized particles towards the Earth and creates radiation storms that can damage satellites, technology and systems, and communication systems, and even our power grids on Earth.
In 2006, the X9-class flare of December 5, and the X6.5-class flare on December 6, caused a CME eruption and solar storm that disrupted disrupted the ionosphere and interrupted GPS signals here on Earth.
NASA, the US Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), and the NOAA as well as other agencies, monitor the sun for X-class flares and space weather conditions. They issue magnetic storm warnings with sufficient time that scientists can take appropriate measures to protect satellites and spacecrafts against the worst effects or solar radiation and magnetic storm damage.