The sun woke up! What does this mean? It means SpaceWeatherLive.com reported a brief but massive M-class solar flare on the Sun’s surface. It has been 925 days since any activity has been recorded, ending a very quiet period.
According to Forbes, an M-class solar flare is, “a massive explosion on the surface of the Sun, which happens when the magnetic field lines get twisted and release energy. In terms of intensity, M-class flares are somewhere in the middle – stronger than C-class flares, but nowhere near as powerful as X-class flares.”
The solar flare was caught by NASA’s STEREO spacecraft. X-flares can cause radio blackouts and reports showed this M-class flare caused a minor radio blackout.
Small B-class solar flares have been reported on the Sun’s northeast side, most likely coming from a sunspot. Counting the number of sunspots can help astronomers determine how active the sun is.
Seeing these solar flares are important for astronomers to detect because this could mean the sun is getting ready to show activity after 118 days in 2020 with no sunspots. Having an M-class flare could mean the sun is moving from the Solar Cycle 24 into Solar Cycle 25. If Solar Cycle has in fact begun, that will continue until 2030/2031, with “solar maximum” happening 2025.
Until then, keep an eye on the sky!