Another M-class flare from Sunspot 1515

July 5, 2012
The Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of the sun during an M6.1 flare that peaked at 7:44 AM EDT on July 5, 2012. The image is shown in the 304 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in red. Credit: Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA

Active Region 1515 has now spit out 12 M-class flares since July 3. Early in the morning of July 5, 2012 there was an M6.1 flare. It peaked at 7:44 AM EDT. This caused a moderate – classified as R2 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's space weather scale – radio blackout that has since subsided.

Radio blackouts occur when the X-rays or extreme UV light from a flare disturb the layer of Earth's atmosphere known as the ionosphere, through which radio waves travel. The constant changes in the ionosphere change the paths of the radio waves as they move, thus degrading the information they carry. This affects both high and low frequency alike. Radio blackouts are rated on a scale from R1 (minor) to R5 (extreme). An R2 radio blackout can result in limited degradation of both high- and low-frequency radio communication and GPS signals.

The same region has also produced numerous coronal mass ejections or CMEs. They have been observed and modeled by NASA's Space Weather Center (SWC) and are thought to be moving relatively slowly, traveling between 300 and 600 miles per second. Since the active region itself is so southerly in the sun, CMEs from this are generally unlikely to impact Earth.

The strongest flares are classified as X-class, while M-class flares are the second strongest classification. Classified as an M6.1, this latest flare is a little over half the size of the weakest X-class flares.

Explore further: Solar flares: What does it take to be X-class?

Related Stories

Solar flares: What does it take to be X-class?

August 10, 2011

Solar flares are giant explosions on the sun that send energy, light and high speed particles into space. These flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The number of ...

Earth-facing sunspot doubles in size

February 13, 2012

The latest sunspot region to traverse the face of the Sun has nearly doubled in size as it aims Earthward, as seen in the animation above from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Click image to play the animation.)

Sun unleashes powerful X-class solar flare

March 6, 2012

The Sun has been quiet recently but early today (04:13 UTC on March 5, 2012) it unleashed a powerful X1-class solar flare and coronal mass ejection. The latest estimates indicate the CME will probably miss Earth, but hit ...

Storms from the sun

March 9, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- Space weather starts at the sun. It begins with an eruption such as a huge burst of light and radiation called a solar flare or a gigantic cloud of solar material called a coronal mass ejection (CME). But ...

Space Image: Sunspots and solar flares

March 21, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this image of an M7.9 class flare on March 13, 2012 at 1:29 p.m. EDT. It is shown here in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength particularly good for seeing ...

New solar active region spitting out flares

June 14, 2012

An active region on the sun, numbered AR 1504, rotated into view over the left side of the sun on June 10, 2012. The region fired off two M-class flares and two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) on June 13 and June 14, 2012. ...

Recommended for you

Born-again planetary nebula

July 28, 2015

Beneath the vivid hues of this eye-shaped cloud, named Abell 78, a tale of stellar life and death is unfolding. At the centre of the nebula, a dying star – not unlike our Sun – which shed its outer layers on its way to ...

The search for molecular oxygen among cosmic oxygen atoms

July 27, 2015

Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe (after hydrogen and helium) and of course it is important: all known life forms require liquid water and its oxygen content. For over thirty years, astronomers have ...

Hubble looks in on a galactic nursery

July 27, 2015

This dramatic image shows the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope's view of dwarf galaxy known as NGC 1140, which lies 60 million light-years away in the constellation of Eridanus. As can be seen in this image NGC 1140 has an ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.