Exploding from the Sun’s surface with energy equivalent to millions of 100-megaton hydrogen bombs, the flare spewed intense radiation into space. It was not directed toward Earth, but NASA says solar material from all three of the recent flares will pass by the Spitzer Space Telescope and could give a “glancing blow” to the STEREO-B and Epoxi spacecraft. All these spacecraft can be put into a protective safe mode.
The latest eruption was characterized as an X3.2-class flare. The X-class category is the most powerful, and each step up in number indicates a doubling of energy. So this flare was more than twice as powerful as Sunday’s X1.7-class flare.
The panel of images above, from NASA’s Earth-orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft, shows the massive eruption of energy in four different wavelengths. Each panel shows what was happening at a different temperature. According to NASA, this provides scientists with insights into the causes of solar flares.