Solar Fireworks

  • Released Thursday, August 11, 2016

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. During flares, a large amount of magnetic energy is released, heating the sun’s atmosphere and sending energized particles out into space. On July 22-23, 2016, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory observed three solar flares erupt in relatively quick succession. To the spacecraft’s high-resolution imaging telescopes, the flares appeared as bright flashes on the right side of the sun. The sun is currently in a period of low activity, moving toward what's called solar minimum when there are few to no solar eruptions. Although the flares are categorized as mid-strength, or M-class, flares, which are substantially less intense than the most powerful X-class flares, they were the first large ones seen since April 2016. Watch the video for views of the event.

The second&ampmdash;and strongest&ampmdash;solar flare (shown above) peaked at 1:16 am EDT on July 23, 2016.

The second—and strongest—solar flare (shown above) peaked at 1:16 am EDT on July 23, 2016.

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Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Video and images courtesy of NASA/SDO

Release date

This page was originally published on Thursday, August 11, 2016.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:48 PM EDT.