NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) observed two X-class solar flares on Tuesday. A Coronal mass ejection (CME) was associated with the solar flares, but large-scale geomagnetic activity is not expected.
The first solar flare occurred on Tuesday at 7:42 a.m. EDT. The X2.2 solar flare erupted from active sunspot region 2087 (AR 2087), the NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) reported. An X-class solar flare is the most intense type of flare, as an X2 flare is twice as powerful as an X1 flare and an X3 flare is three times as powerful as an X1. For comparison purposes, X-class solar flares are 10 times more intense than M-class solar flares.
The second X-class solar flare, an X1.5, erupted from AR 2087 at 8:55 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, NASA noted on the SDO Facebook page. According to SpaceWeather.com, many scientists predicted that a solar flare would erupt from AR 2080.
"Forecasters had been keeping a wary eye on sunspot complex AR2080/AR2085," according to SpaceWeather.com. "Almost directly-facing Earth, those two sunspots have 'delta-class' magnetic fields that harbor energy for X-flares."
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A CME associated with the solar flare was detected, but it was directed away from Earth, SpaceWeather.com said. The radiation emitted from a solar flare cannot penetrate the Earth's atmosphere and poses no threat to humans, but a CME, made of charged matter and particles, could disrupt satellite and communication systems or lead to stunning aurora displays.
Powerful geomagnetic activity caused by a CME could trigger radio blackouts or geomagnetic storms, which could affect electrical grids, satellites and spacecraft. Despite the powerful blasts, the SWPC has not issued a warning for such activity.
"Analysis is underway to determine potential impacts at Earth," an SWPC Facebook post said in regard to Tuesday's solar flares. "Significant geomagnetic activity is not anticipated due to the flare location."
Solar activity has been pretty quiet, with a C-class solar flare, the weakest type, peaking on Sunday while an M-class solar flare erupted on May 8.