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The Sun triggers the strongest flare of the current cycle in the same region that triggered the auroras this weekend

After causing dazzling waves of northern lights this weekend, our Sun isn’t done yet: the strongest solar flare of the current solar cycle occurred Tuesday afternoon, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The eruption – considered X8.7, with Class . The storm is the most extreme geomagnetic storm since 2003, the center said.

“A flare is an eruption of solar energy that typically lasts from a few minutes to a few hours. Eruptions of this magnitude are not common,” the center noted.

Tuesday’s intense flash of ultraviolet light was photographed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which said The eruption peaked at 12:51 p.m. ET.

Solar flares typically occur in active regions of the Sun that include the presence of strong magnetic fields. They can impact radio, power grids and communications. Users of high frequency radio signals may experience temporary or complete signal loss.

However, due to the rotation of the Sun, the sunspot in question no longer directs this energy towards Earth, which will minimize the impacts.

Flares can also pose a threat to astronauts and spacecraft – although NASA found last week that there was no risk to astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

Scientists issued a severe geomagnetic storm warning Friday for the first time in nearly 20 years, advising people to prepare for power outages during last week’s solar storm. The White House was also monitoring the event for any potential impact.

“The Sun’s activity waxes and wanes over an 11-year period known as the solar cycle,” the Solar Dynamics Observatory said on X. “Solar cycle 25 began in December 2019 and is now approaching solar maximum – a period during which flares like this become more common.

This cycle will peak between late 2024 and early 2025. Researchers have observed more intense solar flares as we get closer to the end of the cycle.

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