Solar Flare Hat Trick: In less than a week, the Sun releases another powerful X Flare!

The Sun has fired another powerful X-class solar flare, this time from a newly formed sunspot as it turns to face Earth. This solar flare marks the third X-class flare in less than a week.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded a massive solar flare on Tuesday (January 10) at 5:47 pm EDT (22:47 GMT). According to, the explosion sent a plume of debris into space, and radiation from the flash ionized Earth’s upper atmosphere, causing a radio outage in the South Pacific. (will open in a new tab).

Solar flares are classified by size into letter groups, with the X-class being the most powerful. Within each class, numbers from 1 to 10 (and higher for X-class flares) indicate the relative strength of the flare. The recent outbreak reached X1.09, which is a relatively weak example of the most powerful class.

On the subject: A huge solar flare broke out on the Sun due to a “hyperactive” sunspot

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the X1.09 solar flare in January. September 10, 2023 5:47 pm EDT (22:47 GMT) (Image credit: NASA/SDO/ (will open in a new tab)

The Sun fired three powerful X-class flares just a few days apart, all of which originated from different sunspots. This increased solar activity is associated with the Sun’s coming out of dormancy during the 25th solar cycle, which scientists predict will peak in 2025.

Solar flares occur when magnetic energy builds up in the sun’s atmosphere and is released as a powerful burst of electromagnetic radiation. More powerful Class M and X flares can cause minor to major radio outages on the side of the Earth facing the Sun at the time of the eruption.

This is exactly what happened when a recent X1.09 class solar flare sent a powerful burst of X-rays and extreme ultraviolet radiation to Earth. Traveling at the speed of light, the radiation reached Earth in just over eight minutes and ionized the Earth’s upper atmosphere – the thermosphere – causing shortwave radio blackouts in the South Pacific.

Shortwave radio outages were reported in the South Pacific following an X-class solar flare in January of this year. 10, 2023. (Image credit: NOAA/SWPC) (will open in a new tab)

Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs – large ejections of plasma and magnetic field from the Sun – can also be caused by strong M-class and X-class flares. CME eruptions can disrupt Earth’s magnetosphere and lead to geomagnetic storms that can push auroras closer to the equator than is possible under calm conditions.

So far, no CME has been observed emerging from the region responsible for the powerful X-flare, which originated from a sunspot named AR3186.

More solar activity could be on the horizon soon, according to, as a pair of large active regions currently hidden behind the Sun’s eastern edge come into view later this week.

To find out if there’s a solar flare today and stay up to date with the latest space weather data, visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center. (will open in a new tab) to see the latest solar X-ray data from the GOES meteorological satellites that are located over the east and west of the United States.

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