Largest Solar Flare in 4 Years

2011 Type X2.2 Solar Flare Credit: NASA / Goddard / SDO AIA Team

On February 14 the Sun emitted a powerful solar flare (type X2.2) from Sunspot 1158. Apparently this is the largest flare since 2006. The burst was so intense it overwhelmed the Solar Dynamics Observatory’s light detectors! Notice the giant glint in the ultraviolet image above.

At the same time the Sun ejected a massive cloud of charged particles which is heading towards Earth at 900 km/h. This large solar ejection could make for some fantastic Aurora Borealis shows in the Northern Hemisphere tonight, at lower latitudes than normal – including the northernmost of the contiguous US States and northern Europe, also cause disruption to satellite and GPS systems.

Catch the time lapse video of the flare.

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