GENERICO.ruScienceThe Sun experienced its most powerful flare in seven years

The Sun experienced its most powerful flare in seven years

Astronomers continue to study the life cycles of our Star

A solar flare, measured at 8.7 times the intensity scale, occurred in the sunspot region AR 3664. This region is responsible for solar storms, which occurred from May 10 to 13 and caused bright auroras.

Astronomers continue to study the life cycles of our Star Photo: freepik.com

The new solar flare in our solar system's current cycle is what astronomers say is the most powerful since 2017, and is among the top 20 solar flares ever measured.

As AR 3664 approached the edge Not only did the X8.7 flare erupt on the solar limb, it was followed by an X3.4 flare, indicating that the region of giant sunspots is about to continue its activity on the far side of the Sun, out of sight from Earth.

Let us explain: class X flares — these are the most powerful eruptions our Sun can handle.

Due to the position of both flares, further solar storms in the region of AR 3664 are unlikely. But the sunspot region, which is located just behind the limb on the opposite side of the Sun, will appear on the far side. Astronomers warn that more interesting times may await Earth in the coming days.

Let us recall that the most recent solar flare, more powerful than X8.7, was recorded on September 10, 2017, its time was X11.88. However, at the time it was recorded at X8.2, the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) found.

This surge in solar activity could mean solar maximum has been reached. This is the peak in the 11-year cycle of solar activity when the greatest number of sunspots and associated flares and coronal mass ejections are observed.

“The solar cycle is not well understood, but we know that it manifests itself in the magnetic field of the Sun. During solar maximum, the Sun's magnetic poles switch places. And sunspots — these are areas on the surface of the Sun where the Sun's magnetic field temporarily becomes more powerful than in surrounding areas,” — experts explain.

They explain that when sunspot magnetic field lines intertwine, break and reconnect, a powerful release of energy occurs. This is a solar flare. Sometimes this is accompanied by the release of huge clumps of solar particles bound by magnetic fields. This is a coronal mass ejection.

The length of solar cycles can vary, so it is difficult to predict when the maximum will occur. A solar maximum can be talked about with certainty only after scientists have collected data that allows them to determine a distinct peak in activity and the beginning of the decline to a solar minimum. However, solar maximum is predicted to occur by July 2025, so humanity could be in the thick of things right now.

The recent solar cycle has been much more active than initial official forecasts, which is great news for solar energy scientists and aurora hunters.

«This gives us a lot more data to try to understand why solar cycles behave the way they do, which in turn can help us better predict the timing of solar maxima and minima, as well as the strength of future solar cycles,” — astronomers conclude.

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