The bright light in the lower right of the sun shows an X-class solar flare on Oct. 26, 2014, as captured by NASA's SDO. This was the third X-class flare in 48 hours, which erupted from the largest active region seen on the sun in 24 years.
Image Credit: NASA/SDO

We've had another massive flare from our Sun. A giant active region on the Sun erupted today (Oct. 26, 2014). This marks the sixth substantial flare in a week—the activity started Oct. 19. Today's flare was classified as an X2-class flare, and it peaked at 6:56 a.m. EDT. This is the third X-class flare in 48 hours, and it was seen erupting from the largest active region seen on the sun in 24 years.

The Sun is a G-type main-sequence star comprising about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. The energy provided by the Sun's light supports almost all life on Earth (via photosynthesis or a similar process). The Sun also greatly contributes to Earth's climate and weather patterns.

Oh, and it could fit 1.3 million Earths inside its sphere.

However, at times, we can feel very disconnected from our nearest star, not so much because of its physical distance (which is some 93 million miles/ 150 million km), but because we take it for granted. From Earth, we just see a bright ball of light that travels throughout the sky, much the same, day after day. The problem is that we don’t really see what is going on, and so we forget about the immense power the Sun.

Sunspots are a good demonstration of the power of our star. These spots are regions of the Sun that come into being a a result of shifting magnetic fields that are cooler than their surrounding solar material. Because these areas are cooler, this creates a dark, blemish-like appearance on the Sun.

When the buildup of this magnetism is released, there is an enormous explosion, which we call a "solar flare." Although X-class flares are the most extreme class of solar flares, there is nothing to be concerned about. Space is amazingly big, and the distance between the Earth and the Sun is quite vast. As such, much of the material sprays off in other directions, and the high energy particles largely dissipate by the time that they reach our planet.

According to the National Weather Service:

Region 2192 produced yet another R3 radio blackout (X2 flare), reaching its peak at 6:56 am EDT (1056 UTC) on 26 Oct. Communications impacts were likely in the Atlantic Ocean region.

But beyond that, all will be well on planet Earth.

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