Solar storm: X8.7 solar flare erupts in largest of sun cycle

The sun emitted another strong solar flare on Tuesday – the largest flare in the solar cycle, according to air and space experts.

NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. 

According to the space agency, the flare peaked at 12:51 p.m. ET on May 14 and was classified as an X8.7

An X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. Scientists noted that flares of this magnitude are not frequent.


The Sun emitted a strong solar flare on May 14, 2024, peaking at 12:51 p.m. ET. (Credit: NASA Sun Science/NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory)

Will X8 solar flare have impacts on Earth?

Due to its location, the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center said any Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) associated with this flare will likely not  have any geomagnetic impacts on Earth.

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However, they noted that high-frequency radio signals may experience temporary degradation or complete loss of signal on much of the sunlit side of Earth.

What is solar flare?

According to NASA, solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation or energy from the sun that generally last minutes to hours. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground. 

However — when intense enough — they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS & communications signals travel.

This means that flares and solar eruptions can impact radio communications, electric power grids, navigation signals, and pose risks to spacecraft and astronauts.

This story was reported from Los Angeles.