Solar Flare Bonanza — Third X-Class Solar Flare Within 24 Hours Erupts From The Sun

Another powerful X-class solar flare just erupted from the Sun — the third within only 24 hours. the solar flare registered as a X3.2, making it the most powerful solar flare of the year. This third flare peaked in intensity at about 9:11 pm EDT on May 13, 2013. The previous two flares, an X1.7 and an X2.8, peaked at about 10 pm EDT on May 12 2013, and 12:05 pm EDT on May 13 2013, respectively.

"These pictures from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory show the three X-class flares that the sun emitted in under 24 hours on May 12-13, 2013." Image Credit: NASA/SDO
“These pictures from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory show the three X-class flares that the sun emitted in under 24 hours on May 12-13, 2013.”
Image Credit: NASA/SDO

These three X-class flares represent a significant uptick in activity compared to the past couple of months. An uptick that should continue as the the current solar cycle approaches its peak sometime towards the end of this year/beginning of next year. This recent flare was the 17th C-Class solar flare of the solar cycle that we are currently in. The solar cycle is a roughly 11-year cycle of intensifying and lulling solar activity.

With regards to the two earlier solar flares, as we reported yesterday:

The two strongest solar flares of the year just erupted from the Sun — an X1.7 and an X2.8 — the first X-class solar flares of the year. A coronal mass ejection (CME) also erupted from the Sun at the same time, though it is not Earth-directed. The CME was traveling at about 1,200 miles per second when it erupted.

The X1.7 class solar flare erupted around 10 pm EDT on May 12, 2013. And the X2.8 class solar flare followed on May 13, 2013, at around 12:05 p.m. EDT. These two solar flares dwarf any other solar eruption of the year, and should be a good preview of the rest of the year, as solar activity ramps up approaching the solar maximum. The CMEs associated with these flares won’t hit the Earth though, so they shouldn’t affect electronics or satellites at all. Though it may affect NASA’s STEREO-B, Messenger, and Spitzer, spacecrafts.

All three solar flares triggered significant coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, but none of them are Earth-directed, and as. Result should causes no problems here. The CME from the most recent solar eruption began at 9:30 pm EDT on May 13, 2013. NASA notes, with regards to their spacecraft: “Experimental NASA research models show that the CME left the sun at approximately 1,400 miles per second, which is particularly fast for a CME. The models suggest that it will catch up to the two CMEs associated with the earlier flares. The merged cloud of solar material will pass by the Spitzer spacecraft and may give a glancing blow to the STEREO-B and Epoxi spacecraft. Their mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from solar material.”

Unfortunately, because these flares and CMEs weren’t Earth-directed there will be no auroral activity as a result. X-Class solar flares can trigger incredible displays of the “Northern Lights”.

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