NASA's SDO Observes a Cinco de Mayo Solar Flare

  • Released Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 6:11 pm EDT on May 5, 2015. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the sun constantly, captured an image of the event. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. 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 and communications signals travel.

 This flare is classified as an X2.7-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.  

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images of a solar flare – as seen in the bright flash on the left – on May 5, 2015. Each image shows a different wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights a different temperature of material on the sun. By comparing different images, scientists can better understand the movement of solar matter and energy during a flare. From left to right, the wavelengths are: visible light, 171 angstroms, 304 angstroms, 193 angstroms and 131 angstroms. Each wavelength has been colorized. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images of a solar flare – as seen in the bright flash on the left – on May 5, 2015. Each image shows a different wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights a different temperature of material on the sun. By comparing different images, scientists can better understand the movement of solar matter and energy during a flare. From left to right, the wavelengths are: visible light, 171 angstroms, 304 angstroms, 193 angstroms and 131 angstroms. Each wavelength has been colorized. 

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images of a solar flare – as seen in the bright flash on the left – on May 5, 2015. Each image shows a different wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights a different temperature of material on the sun. By comparing different images, scientists can better understand the movement of solar matter and energy during a flare. From left to right, the wavelengths are: visible light, 171 angstroms, 304 angstroms, 193 angstroms and 131 angstroms. Each wavelength has been colorized. Unlabeled.Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images of a solar flare – as seen in the bright flash on the left – on May 5, 2015. Each image shows a different wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light that highlights a different temperature of material on the sun. By comparing different images, scientists can better understand the movement of solar matter and energy during a flare. From left to right, the wavelengths are: visible light, 171 angstroms, 304 angstroms, 193 angstroms and 131 angstroms. Each wavelength has been colorized. Unlabeled.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 131 angstrom wavelengths. The Earth is shown to scale.Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 131 angstrom wavelengths. The Earth is shown to scale.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 131 angstrom wavelengths. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 131 angstrom wavelengths.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 131 angstrom wavelengths. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 131 angstrom wavelengths.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 304 angstrom wavelengths. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows a blend of light from the 171 and 304 angstrom wavelengths.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

A sunspot peeks around the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in visible light.Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

A sunspot peeks around the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in visible light.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 131 angstroms. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 131 angstroms.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 171 angstroms. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 171 angstroms.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

The Joint ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured this image at 7:36 pm EDT on May 5, 2015. Credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC

The Joint ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured this image at 7:36 pm EDT on May 5, 2015.

Credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 304 angstroms. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 304 angstroms.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

A sunspot peeks around edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in visible light.Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

A sunspot peeks around edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in visible light.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 193 angstroms. Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. This image was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory in light with a wavelength of 193 angstroms.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. 4k frames and video with a wavelength of 171 angstroms.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. 4k frames and video with a wavelength of 131 angstroms.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

An X2.7 class solar flare flashes on the edge of the sun on May 5, 2015. 4k frames and video with a wavelength of 304 angstroms.

Credit: NASA/GSFC/SDO

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. However, each image should be credited as indicated above.

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This page was originally published on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.
This page was last updated on Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 12:19 AM EST.


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