NASA space images illustrate an increase in Solar Flares

By Angelica Stephens,

NASA space cameras have captured images of three solar flares that occurred Tuesday and Wednesday, demonstrating an increase in the natural phenomenon.

The first two occurred between 7:40 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time and 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. The third blast occurred around 5:40 a.m. Wednesday morning. The solar flares were expected to cause radio frequency interruptions, but are harmless to humans and the earth itself.

According to CNN News, NASA described the solar flares in detail. Solar flares emit plasma and gasses into the solar system via eruptions of solar radiation. The radiation from the blasts are unable to penetrate the earth’s atmosphere, thus making them virtually harmless. NASA reported that the only concern from the blasts are that they are often strong enough to interrupt GPS and other similar signals used for communication.

Solar flares are measured by the size of their impact, similar to the way earthquakes and tornados are measured. X-flares, which were the size of the recent solar flares, are the strongest and are capable of interrupting radio signals all over the world. M-class flares are only moderately strong and C-class flares usually go unnoticed.

While Solar flares are not rare and they have been increasing recently, the increase may be due to the peak of an 11-year cycle. The sun has an 11-year cycle known as the 24 cycle and is currently in the active phase of its cycle. NASA scientists believe that the sun is at its maximum point in the cycle. However, this specific maximum has not been as strong as previous cycles.

Scientists expected the solar max to arrive last year, but are excited to announce that it has finally arrived in June 2014, Space.com noted.

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