At 7:39 a.m., Active Region 1515 released an M6.1 class flare which peaked five minutes later. This image, taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), is shown in the 304 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in red and focuses on Helium in the chromosphere and transition region of the sun. (NASA/SDO/AIA)

At 7:39 a.m., Active Region 1515 released an M6.1 class flare which peaked five minutes later. This image, taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), is shown in the 304 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in red and focuses on Helium in the chromosphere and transition region of the sun. (NASA/SDO/AIA)

The sun, in a particularly active part of its normal cycle, fired off big flares July 4 and 5, with the latter causing a moderate R2 radio blackout for a short time.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the M-class solar flare that peaked before 8 a.m. EDT. The flare came from a huge, 62,000-mile-long sunspot, called Active Region 1515, which has launched 12 of the large M-class flares since July 3.

M-class flares are the second largest to the giant X-class solar flares, as classified by scientists.

The active region has also produced coronal mass ejections, clouds of plasma and charged particles that, when hurled toward Earth, can disrupt satellites and cause electrical and communications problems. These particular CMEs do not present a danger to Earth at this time, but the sunspot is slowly rotating toward Earth, so we are not out of the woods yet.

“Stay tuned for updates as Region 1515 continues its march across the solar disk,” officials from the Space Weather Prediction Center, said in a statement.

Our sun goes through an 11-year cycle of solar weather. The current cycle is expect to peak next year before slowly calming down again.

Essential Reading

Amazon.com Widgets

Photo Gallery