Activity Continues On the Sun

Solar activity continued on May 14, as the sun emitted a fourth X-class flare from its upper left limb, peaking at 9:48 p.m. EDT. This flare is classified as an X1.2 flare and is the 18th X-class flare of the current solar cycle. The flare caused a radio blackout – categorized as an R3, or strong, on NOAA’s space weather scales from R1 to R5 — which has since subsided.

The flare was also associated with a non-Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejection. CMEs and flares are separate but related solar phenomena: solar flares are powerful bursts that send light and radiation into space; CMEs erupt with billions of tons of solar material. They often, but do not always, occur together. Any time we can see a solar flare from Earth’s view, than at least some of its light and radiation must be directed at Earth. CMEs on the other hand may or may not be Earth directed. NASA observes CMEs even when they are not traveling toward Earth, because they may impact spacecraft.

To read more and see some incredible imagery on this solar activity, visit

This story is a great real-world connection to the NASA Explorer Schools featured lesson, Geometry: Space Math Problems—Solar Storms. To access this lesson, visit the NASA Explorer Schools Virtual Campus.