The sun fired off a massive solar flare late Friday.The huge solar flare registered as an X1.8-class event, one of the most powerful types of flares possible, and was captured on camera by NASA's powerful Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The flare triggered a strong radio blackout for parts of Earth as it peaked Friday at 7:28 p.m. ET, according to an alert from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center.
The solar flare erupted from a sunspot region classified as Active Region 2242, and more sun storms could occur from the region.More minor to moderate radio blackouts are expected, with an ongoing chance for another strong event.
Earlier in the week, another active sunspot region called AR 2241 fired off two moderate M-class flares. X-class solar flares are the strongest solar flares the sun can unleash. When aimed directly at Earth, they can disrupt communications and GPS navigation systems on Earth, and even pose a threat to satellites and astronauts in space.
M-class solar flares are about one-tenth the size of X-class flares, but can supercharge Earth's auroras, or northern lights, resulting in dazzling displays. A huge eruption of solar material — called a coronal mass ejection, or CME — from the earlier M-class flares is expected to trigger geomagnetic storms on Earth, possibly amplifying the northern lights, this weekend.