12:25 PM | Active sunspot region has unleashed four X-class solar flares in the past few days; CME could deliver glancing blow to Earth's upper atmosphere tomorrow
The active sunspot region called AR1748 has unleashed four X-class solar flares in the past few days and it might not be finished yet as it continues to grow and has a magnetic field that harbors energy for more X-class solar flares according to NASA scientists. (Other solar flare categories include M-class, which are medium strength and C-class which are small and relatively weak). This particular sunspot region has actually produced more X-flares than every other sunspot of the past year combined.
The last of the four solar flares which occurred early yesterday did produce a coronal mass ejection (CME) that may deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on Friday, May 17th. As a result, northern lights are possible across northern latitudes when the CME reaches the Earth’s upper atmosphere on Friday. The threat for more X-flares continues from AR1748 as it now moves into a location that puts the Earth directly in the line of fire. NOAA forecasters put the odds of another X-flare at 60%. The largest X-class solar flare in this particular solar cycle (#24) was an X6.9 that occurred on August 9th, 2011.