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Weather forecasting and analysis, space and historic events, climate information

11:40 AM | *Solar activity surges with strongest flares of the year - all three classified as X-level, the most intense type*

Paul Dorian


Solar activity has surged in the past two days as a large sunspot region officially called AR1748 has actually generated three different solar flares classified by NASA as “X-class” eruptions, the most intense type of flare, and the strongest flares of the year so far. (Other solar flare categories include M-class, which are medium strength and C-class which are small and relatively weak). Specifically, in just the past two days, there have been three solar flares with increasing strength classified as X1.7, X2.8 and X3.2, and they signal a significant increase in solar activity. The largest X-class solar flare in this particular solar cycle (#24) was an X6.9 that occurred on August 9th, 2011.

Thus far, this recent surge in solar activity has occurred while the Earth was not in the direct line of fire, but this particular sunspot region is now rotating into that direction. Additionally, it appears another sunspot region is about to rotate into view from the sun’s eastern limb and there is reason to believe that it is quite an active region as well. All of these flares have produced strong flashes of extreme ultraviolet radiation and the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has captured video which shows that the explosions produced coronal mass ejections (CMEs) blasting plenty of plasma material into space. These active sunspot regions will continue to be monitored over the next few days here at NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% chance of more X-flares during the next 24 hours or so.