Sun Solar Flare Captured by NASA SDO [Video]


An active sunspot erupted with a solar flare on February 25, 2014.  The sunspot, currently designated AR11990, is on its third trip around the sun since originally being tracked.  AR11990’s trip around the sun is approximately 27 days.  A high-definition video of the Sun’s recent solar flare was captured by NASA’s SDO mission.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) was the first mission launched under the Living With a Star Program.  The LWS program was created to research, observe, and better understand the Sun’s influence on the space around Earth and on Earth itself.  The mission will be used to understand the reasons behind solar variability and how they directly impact Earth.  SDO was launched on Feb. 11, 2010 from Cape Canaveral and has been observing the Sun, solar atmosphere, magnetic fields, the solar corona, and detailed information about how stored energy is converted into solar wind and other deviations of solar irradiance.

SDO was able to record the massive solar flare which erupted from the sun for NASA.  The flare was combined with a large burst of plasma which is termed a coronal mass ejection (CME).  The eruption occurred just after the sunspot returned to face Earthside again on Feb. 25.  The sunspot produced the largest flare of the year, an X4.9 class solar flare which denotes the most powerful class of solar flares and storms.  Because the area had just come into view, the spot was not pointing directly at Earth.  Had the area been more in line with Earth, serious damage could have been caused by a geomagnetic storm.

The area of sunspot AR11990 will be rotating more directly in line with Earth over the next several days.  This appears to be a fairly active area which has produced two other X-class solar flares as well as a number of mid-level and smaller ones.  An X-class flare denotes the most intense type of eruption while the number indicates the actual strength of the flare.  An X2 signifies that the burst was twice as intense as an X1 while an X4 such as this one, is more than four times as intense.  Sunspots generally do not remain stable for more than several weeks but there have been some that have been around for months.

Observers will continue to track this sunspot’s area for more activity.  If another X-class solar eruption transpires while AR11990 is in line with Earth a severe geomagnetic storm could occur.  A geomagnetic storm could impair satellites and harm astronauts in orbit.  One such storm in January caused a delay in the launch of a cargo ship bound for the International Space Station.  Other such delays or problems could be on the horizon if another solar eruption with a similar magnitude happens.

SDO will continue to observe the sun for solar flares and other data for NASA.  When another eruption takes place, the information will be on hand for observers, researchers and scientists.  The data will determine if Earth is in any imminent danger from those flares or any corresponding CMEs.  Through continuous data collection, the Solar Dynamics Observatory through the Living With a Star Program will continue to study how solar activity and the resultant space weather occurs.

By Dee Mueller

Space Fellowship

One Response to "Sun Solar Flare Captured by NASA SDO [Video]"

  1. Rudy Haugeneder   March 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    Once a century, the scientists say — another big Carrington sunburst (1859) or larger that could throw us back into the an instant worldwide dark age with no power because the computer and other technology running it would be erased: Totally kaput.

    Not only would the lights go out but nuclear power plants would stop being cooled, melt down, and make the Japanese nuclear plant disaster look very small and minor, dangerously irradiating hundreds and thousands of miles of agriculture land around each plant; hydroelectric dams would become nothing but giant and useless manmade piles of stuff blocking rivers which, in quick terms of a few dozen months, will fail and inundate downstream cities and towns and growing fields while drowning everything in their path; destroy financial records of people and financial empires, meaning nobody has any cash anywhere unless you have a basement of gold, silver and diamonds to trade for goods needed to survive; make hospitals and drug manufacturing plants and refineries ghost buildings with no power; mean that food warehouses, once empty, will remain empty because the technology needed to replenish them will be wrecked; resulting in violent anarchy that turns neighbor against neighbor as hunger sets in and people fight each other to survive, even buy needed clothing and tools; sink and drown nuclear and other military submarines and warships and make other military hardware, even automatic rifles and cannons that need factory-made ammunition and replacement parts will be as useless as the simple clubs they become. All because of another big Carrington or Carrington-plus type sunburst: the end of life as we know it unless we belong to remote tribes that still exist without modern technological conveniences. Even underdeveloped or overpopulated poor countries where people rely on smart phones to conduct business will collapse into anarchy when everything stops. Super cities across the world — North America, China, Europe, Middle East will quickly decay into windswept towering ruins within a year or so, their populations reduced to warring small tribes battling each other over food and trinkets.

    And the disasters mentioned are just the tip of the wreckage to come before the planet, its human population shrunk to a few dozen, perhaps at best hundreds of millions, restores itself because there are too few people to prevent the rebirth from happening.

    And, as warned, a really big sunburst is guaranteed to happen — tomorrow, next year, a decade from now.

    The lesson: store a healthy one-year stock of cash, water, food, medicines at home, like Mormons are instructed to do, and love your friends, neighbors and relatives because it may be you only chance to survive.


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