Another M-class flare from Sunspot 1515

Jul 05, 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: Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

Related Stories

Storms from the sun

Mar 09, 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 ...

Space Image: Sunspots and solar flares

Mar 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 ...

New solar active region spitting out flares

Jun 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 ...

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

Aug 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). ...

Earth-facing sunspot doubles in size

Feb 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 ...

Sun unleashes powerful X-class solar flare

Mar 06, 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 ...

Recommended for you

Total lunar eclipse before dawn on April 4th

19 hours ago

An unusually brief total eclipse of the Moon will be visible before dawn this Saturday, April 4th, from western North America. The eclipse happens on Saturday evening for Australia and East Asia.

Cassini: Return to Rhea

Mar 30, 2015

After a couple of years in high-inclination orbits that limited its ability to encounter Saturn's moons, NASA's Cassini spacecraft returned to Saturn's equatorial plane in March 2015.

Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'

Mar 30, 2015

A team of scientists has a new explanation for the planet Mercury's dark, barely reflective surface. In a paper published in Nature Geoscience, the researchers suggest that a steady dusting of carbon from p ...

It's 'full spin ahead' for NASA soil moisture mapper

Mar 30, 2015

The 20-foot (6-meter) "golden lasso" reflector antenna atop NASA's new Soil Moisture Active Passive (SMAP) observatory is now ready to wrangle up high-resolution global soil moisture data, following the successful ...

What drives the solar cycle?

Mar 30, 2015

You can be thankful that we bask in the glow of a relatively placid star. Currently about halfway along its 10 billion year career on the Main Sequence, our sun fuses hydrogen into helium in a battle against ...

User comments : 0

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.