Sun erupts the biggest flare in four years

  • On July 3, 2021 the sun emitted a large solar flare that was observed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. During a solar flare, the highly energetic charged particles are expelled from the sun at close to that of the speed of light.
  • These rays can disturb the ionosphere region of the Earth, which plays an important role in radio communications. The US NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center said that a strong radio blackout occurred in certain regions around the Atlantic Ocean on July 3.
  • One of the biggest impacts of solar flares in history resulted in a large portion of the North American power grid failing. On March 13, 1989, Quebec, Canada, suffered a power blackout that lasted for over 12 hours, and radio signals were jammed due to the solar flare.

What is Solar Flare?

  • A solar flare is a sudden, rapid, and intense explosion on the surface of the Sun that happens when massive amounts of energy stored in magnetic fields are suddenly released.
  • The explosion emits radiation across the length and breadth of the universe, hurtling them towards planets in the solar system. These radiations contain radio waves, x-rays and gamma rays.
  • According to Nasa, the energy released by this explosion could be equivalent to millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs exploding at the same time. However, it is just one-tenth of the total energy emitted by the Sun every second.
  • There are three stages of a solar flare: first, the precursor stage, where the release of magnetic energy is triggered with soft X-Ray emissions. The second stage, named impulsive, is when protons and electrons are accelerated to energies equivalent to a million electron volts. The third stage is the gradual build-up and decay of the X-Rays. The duration of these stages can be as short as a few seconds or could extend up to hours.
  • ISRO had recently observed around 100 microflares, providing new insights about coronal mass heating on the Sun. The corona emits ultraviolet X-rays and consists of ionised gas at temperatures exceeding 2 million degrees Fahrenheit.