Images taken of the sun on December 4 by Eduardo Schaberger Poupeau, an astrophotographer, revealed five significant sunspots and two filaments of magnetism facing Earth. “In the southeast limb, we see an extensive prominence, also in the southern hemisphere, but within the disk, we can see the active region AR3153 that contains sunspots of a significant size, we also see a very extensive filament,” Poupeau told Spaceweather.com.
According to Nasa, a solar flare is described as an “intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots.” It is considered to be the largest explosive event in our solar system. “They are seen as bright areas in the sun and they can last from minutes to hours.”
Do all solar flares reach Earth?
The activity on the solar surface impacts earth only when it takes place on the side of the sun facing Earth. Since the flares are made of photons, their visibility can lead to direct impact.
The cause of such flares can be attributed to sunspots, “which are dark areas on the solar surface, contain strong magnetic fields that are constantly shifting”. When these fields quickly dissipate their stored energy, it can lead to the formation of solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). For reference, a “moderate-sized sunspot is about as large as the Earth”.