Coronal mass ejections. Image from the Space Weather Prediction Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Sept. 11, 2017 (Phys.org) -- The sun's largest solar flare in more than 12 years -- and the eighth largest since modern records began in 1996 -- has been captured in high detail by a team of researchers from the University of Sheffield and Queen's University Belfast.
The huge burst of radiation, which was not harmful to humans due to the Earth's protective atmosphere and distance from the sun, occurred unexpectedly Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017.
The flare was one of three X-category flares -- the largest type of flare -- observed over 48 hour period.
The large solar bursts have energies comparable to one billion hydrogen bombs and can drive plasma away from the solar surface at speeds of up to 2000 km/s in phenomena known as coronal mass ejections.