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C3-class Solar Flare Eruption

Published by Matt on Mon Sep 13, 2010 12:41 pm via: source
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Just as sunspot 1105 was turning away from Earth on Sept. 8, the active region erupted, producing a solar flare and a fantastic prominence. The eruption also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection into space. The eruption was not directed toward any planets.

Solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M or X according to the peak flux (in watts per square meter, W/m2) of 100 to 800 picometer X-rays near Earth, as measured on the GOES  spacecraft. Each class has a peak flux ten times greater than the preceding one, with X class flares having a peak flux of order 10−4 W/m2. Within a class there is a linear scale from 1 to 9, so an X2 flare is twice as powerful as an X1 flare, and is four times more powerful than an M5 flare. The more powerful M and X class flares are often associated with a variety of effects on the near-Earth space environment. Although the GOES classification is commonly used to indicate the size of a flare, it is only one measure. This extended logarithmic  classification is necessary because the total energies of flares range over many orders of magnitude, following a uniform distribution with flare frequency roughly proportional to the inverse of the total energy. Stellar flares and earthquakes show similar power-law distributions.

This is a snapshot of the prominence. Credit: NASA/SDO

This is a snapshot of the prominence. Credit: NASA/SDO

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