A massive explosion on the sun causes a big solar flare.

Over the Easter holiday weekend, the sun released a large solar flare, causing radio blackouts and laying the groundwork for future solar storms.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the Easter solar flare peaked late Saturday (April 16) at 11:34 p.m. EDT (0333 GMT on April 17), and was followed minutes later by a major sun eruption known as a coronal mass ejection. The flare was classified as an X1.1-class sun storm (the most intense on the sun) and lasted approximately 34 minutes, according to SWPC authorities.

According to the SWPC, the flare emanated from Regions 2994 and 2993, a cluster of active sunspots that has seen “substantial flaring” since it erupted on the sun’s eastern limb.

“Such bursts are produced by shock waves in the leading edges of CMEs,”

astronomer Tony Phillips of

Solar activity is predicted to be active over the coming week as these sunspots migrate across the visible disk, according to an advisory from the agency.

The Easter solar flare caused a brief radio blackout and was categorized as a Type II solar radio burst by the SWPC.

In an update, astronomer Tony Phillips noted that “such bursts are produced by shock waves on the leading edges of CMEs.” Because the eruption happened on the sun’s very eastern limb, the coronal mass ejection it created is unlikely to be directed at Earth, according to Phillips.

X-class solar flares are the most powerful types of solar storms. A-class sun flares are the weakest; B-and C-class storms are likewise minor. Even more intense M-class storms and above can boost the Earth’s northern lights displays, while the biggest X-class storms can endanger satellites and humans in orbit if they are targeted straight at Earth.

The Easter weekend solar flares follow an X1.3-class solar storm on March 30, as well as multiple C-class and M-class flares from various sunspot locations in recent weeks.

The sun is currently experiencing an increase in activity as part of its 11-year solar weather cycle (the current cycle is known as Solar Cycle 25 and began in 2019). NASA, the SWPC, and other solar scientists monitor space weather from the sun using a variety of spacecraft, including NASA’s Solar Dynamics Orbiter and the NASA-European Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).

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