The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has released several amazing photos of the largest solar flare of 2013, which occurred on April 11.
Solar flares are powerful light emissions of the Sun as observed from Earth. However, they consist of an energy release of impressive power. According to scientists, a flare releases the same amount of energy as hundreds of billions of megatons of TNT.
This is very important for Earth, as a coronal mass ejection (CME) will be emitted after a flare. A CME affects the outer layers of the atmosphere causing a geomagnetic storm that disturbs our satellites, thus our communications and GPS systems.
NASA spots great photos of this year’s largest solar flare
However, they can produce amazing light shows, which are not visible to the naked eye, nor to conventional cameras. Fortunately, NASA has some powerful equipment, including lenses and telescopes, in its possession, allowing the agency to capture photos of the phenomenon.
The recent flare has been declared as the biggest so far in 2013. As the summer is coming, NASA is expecting the Sun to fire even more powerful flares in our direction. The flare which happened on April 11, is an M6.5-class solar flare and it is a part of the “mid-level” category.
Solar flare frequency will intensify, producing more amazing light shows
NASA scientists added that the flares will intensify over the following period. The reason for that is simple to understand, as the 11-year cycle of the Sun is heading towards the so-called solar maximum, meaning that the flare frequency will increase later this year.
As usual, most of them, including this year’s largest solar flare, will be followed by coronal mass ejections, projecting billions of particles into space and affecting our electronic devices.
NASA’s SDO and SOHO took this wonderful imagery
In order to capture these photos, NASA has modified its telescopes to search for light in wavelengths of 131 and 171 Angstroms. The results are astonishing and one image even encapsulates Mars, while the other one offers a glimpse of both Mars and Venus.
All images were taken with the help of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) and the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), which is a part of a joint operation between NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).