Social media sites were abuzz yesterday with warnings about the danger humans were facing from a solar flare. However, the earth’s magnetic field protected us but did not prevent NASA from getting some awesome pictures of the event.
A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events. They are seen as bright areas on the sun and they can last from minutes to hours. We typically see a solar flare by the photons (or light) it releases, at most every wavelength of the spectrum.
The primary ways NASA monitors flares are in x-rays and optical light. Flares are also sites where particles (electrons, protons, and heavier particles) are accelerated.