(Phys.org) -- On August 17, the sun emitted a mid-level flare, peaking at 9:02 PM EDT. Solar flares are gigantic bursts of radiation that cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to harm humans on the ground, however when strong enough they can disrupt GPS and communications signals.
The flare is classified as an M5.6 class flare. M-class flares can cause brief radio blackouts at the poles and minor radiation storms that might endanger astronauts.
What is a solar flare?
For answers to this and other space weather questions, please visit the Spaceweather Frequently Asked Questions page.
Explore further: Comet dust—planet Mercury's 'invisible paint'