X5.0 flare ("New Years Eve Flare") at Active Region 13536 - December 31, 2023

  • Released Tuesday, February 13, 2024
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Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) operates in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth to obtain a continuous view of the Sun. The particular instrument in this visualization records imagery in the ultraviolet portion of the spectrum at wavelengths normally absorbed by Earth's atmosphere - so we need to observe them from space.

The Sun, getting more active as it continues towards the peak of Solar Cycle 25, ends 2023 with a bang as Active Region 13536 on the left limb erupts with an X 5.0 flare, the largest observed so far this cycle. Note that this is probably the same active region (just renumbered) which launched an X2.8 flare a couple weeks earlier (X2.8 flare at Active Region 13514 - December 14, 2023), when solar rotation carried this region over the right limb of the Sun. For details of this event, see the Space Weather database entry.

For more information on the classification of solar flares, see Solar Flares: What Does It Take to Be X-Class? or X-Class: A Guide to Solar Flares. The point-spread function correction (PSF) has been applied to all this imagery.

What is the PSF (Point Spread-Function)?

Many telescopes, especially reflecting telescopes such as the ones used on SDO (Wikipedia), have internal structures that support various optical components. These components can result in incoming light being scattered to other parts of the image. This can appear in the image as a faint haze, brightening dark areas and dimming bright areas. The point-spread function (Wikipedia) is a measure of how light that would normally be received by a single camera pixel, gets scattered onto other pixels. This is often seen as the "spikes" seen in images of bright stars. For SDO, it manifests as a double-X shape centered over a bright flare (see Sun Emits Third Solar Flare in Two Days). The effect of this scattered light can be computed, and removed, by a process called deconvolution (Wikipedia). This is often a very compute-intensive process which can be sped up by using a computers graphics-processing unit (GPU) for the computation.


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NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Tuesday, February 13, 2024.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, February 7, 2024 at 1:39 PM EST.


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