News Tech and Science

Sun unleashes massive X8.7 solar flare, the most intense of this solar cycle

x8.7 solar flare
Source: Pixabay

UPDATE 14:19 PM ET: Massive X8.7 solar flare occurred Tuesday, the most intense of this solar cycle, according to NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.

The Sun emitted a strong solar flare, peaking at 12:51 p.m. ET on May 14, 2024. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which watches the Sun constantly, captured an image of the event.

Solar flares are strong bursts of energy from the Sun that can disrupt communication, power, and navigation systems, as well as endanger spacecraft and astronauts.

The flare in question has been categorized as an X8.7 flare. The classification “X-class” signifies the highest intensity of flares, with the number offering further details about its potency.

PREVIOUS UPDATES 13:39 ET: Northern Lights might be visible again after a “final blast” solar flare this week. Another solar flare occurred on Monday, and its effects are expected to reach us by Tuesday night or Wednesday.

Another solar flare happened on Monday bringing back a chance to see the Northern Lights on Wednesday

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has warned that geomagnetic solar storms caused by eruptions from the Sun are not yet over, according to

Scientific website Space Today reported: “This time a long duration M6.6 flare, resulting in a full and rapid halo CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). Most of the CME is directed SW, with a component directed toward Earth. Impact is expected on May 15.”

An M6.6 solar flare is considered moderately strong and can cause radio blackouts at higher frequencies used by commercial airliners and ham radio operators. It can also lead to minor disruptions in satellite operations and navigation systems.

According to the space blog EarthSky, the Sun’s recent activity won’t be as dramatic as the weekend’s events. However, “at least G3 (moderate) geomagnetic storming is in the forecast,” which could create significant auroral displays under the right conditions.

Geomagnetic storms’ impacts on technology and nature

The May 2024 storm, rated G5 on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 1-to-5 Geomagnetic Storms scale, disrupted GPS communications. It also caused errors in tractor guidance systems that need centimeter-level precision.

According to David Wallace, an assistant clinical professor of electrical engineering at Mississippi State University, stronger storms could have much more serious consequences.

The geomagnetic storm that began on May 10, 2024, created stunning displays of the aurora borealis, or northern lights, visible as far south as Mexico. However, according to CBS News, it also caused issues for farmers whose GPS-guided tractors were disrupted during planting season.

Geomagnetic storms occur when a large bubble of superheated gas, called plasma, is ejected from the Sun’s surface and hits the Earth. This bubble, known as a coronal mass ejection, contains a cloud of electrically charged protons and electrons. When these particles reach Earth, they interact with the planet’s magnetic field, causing it to distort and weaken. This interaction leads to the striking aurora borealis and other natural phenomena.


About the author

Brendan Taylor

Brendan Taylor was a TV news producer for 5 and a half years. He is an experienced writer. Brendan covers Breaking News at Insider Paper.

Daily Newsletter