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Two Strong Solar Flares Hit Earth This Week

Solar Flare

The Solar Dynamics Observatory at NASA witnessed the sun release a powerful burst of energy earlier this week.

Image of Tuesday’s solar flare captured by NASA. (Photo Courtesy of NASA)

The burst of energy, known a a solar flare, was recorded just before 2 p.m. EST on Jan. 9. The flare was classified as an X1.9, the “X” meaning it is the strongest category, while the numbers distinguish the intensity.

Tuesday evening, NASA recorded another X1 flare at 5:47 p.m. EST.

The sunlit side of the Earth received the most impacts during these flares. The X1.9 flare on Monday impacted North America the most, including Northern Michigan. Tuesday’s X1 flare mostly skimmed the western portion of the United States.

The flares this week were also rated R3, which is a designation related to what the impacts could be. The flares were stated to cause a high-frequency radio (3 to 30 MHz) blackout for up to two hours.

Solar flares are also known to create interruptions for low-frequency signals.

Some examples of low-frequency signals:

  • GPS
  • Cellphone systems
  • AM/FM radio
  • TV signals (satellite, antenna)

Solar flares take only about 8 minutes to reach the Earth, thanks to the radiation traveling at or near the speed of light (~6.7 million mph).

The impacts do not last longer than a couple of hours, but depending on the strength of a flare, they can last a few days. You may experience only minor interruptions in signal during the time frame.

The sun becomes more active, resulting in the likelihood of more flares, as the sun reaches the end of its solar cycle. You can read more about the sun and .

It is also important to note that solar flares don’t contain enough energy to do any long-term damage to Earth.

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