While the Draconid meteor shower was sending a light show across the northern sky, the sun set off its own fireworks on Tuesday night. An M-class solar flare — the strongest flare that's been seen since mid-August — erupted from the sun's surface.
NASA may be shut down, but its satellites are still keeping a careful watch over the sun, and the Solar Dynamics Observatory captured these images between 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Oct. 8.
The eruption registered as magnitude M2.8, which is a medium-strength flare and included what's known as 'oscillation phenomenon.' You can clearly see this in the second and third loops of the video, as the arches of solar plasma wave back and forth in the wake of the explosion.
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This flare wasn't aimed in our direction, but it did cause a weak geomagnetic storm earlier today as particles from the eruption bounced off the Earth's magnetic field. According to the Space Weather Prediction Center, these storms can cause electric currents to form in some power grids, possibly causing some minor power fluctuations. These aren't dangerous, but the information is useful for power companies as they handle the electricity on their grid. The biggest and most spectacular effect of the storms can be seen when the Aurora Borealis kick into overdrive.
The region this flare erupted from is currently tracking across the face of the sun and it's expected to catch up to us soon. If another flare goes off while its pointing this way, it's doubtful we'd have anything to worry about, but it would lead to more amazing auroras.
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