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Sun Starts the New Year with a Bang

January 6, 2005

NASA — The Sun started the new year with fireworks of its own: in the first minute of 2005, this large X1.7 flare erupted in sunspot AR 10715.

Both the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) and Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft observed the event.

The flare was on the eastern side of the solar disk so there was no direct effect on the Earth’s magnetosphere (events on the western side will intersect our path in orbit).

It’s crucial to have a good understanding of these flares and their related coronal mass ejections that release radiated plasma with the force of a billion megaton bombs into space.

They can cause magnetic storms by interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field, distorting its shape and accelerating electrically charged particles trapped within.

The radiation is harmful to astronauts and space systems ranging from communication and science satellites to power grids.

Animations

The TRACE spacecraft points its powerful telescope at the “transition” region of the Sun’s atmosphere, a highly volatile and dynamic region to provide these impressive close-up views of flares. Click here for the video. Credit: NASA/LMSAL

This view is from SOHO’s EIT instrument which gives a “full-disk” view of the Sun and the multiple active regions during the week. The sunspot area that generated the flare in the TRACE closeup is located in the top third of the image. Click here to watch video. Credit: NASA/ESA

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