In a celestial spectacle, the Sun emitted a spectacular X2.8 solar flare on Thursday at 10:30 p.m. IST, standing as the most potent solar eruption since 2017. These solar flares, arising from the Sun’s magnetic field reconnections, are categorised based on their strength, and an X2.8 event is a formidable release of energy.

Captured vividly by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, the flare caused a temporary shortwave radio blackout across the Americas. A type 1 solar radio burst was reported by the United States Air Force, which originated from the leading edge of a coronal mass ejection (CME), a colossal expulsion of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun’s corona.

While the CME is not squarely directed at Earth, it harbours an Earth-directed component that may lead to geomagnetic storms on Sunday (16 December). The event, though robust, falls short of the historical solar flare recorded in 2003, which overwhelmed measuring sensors and was retrospectively estimated to be around X45.

This solar spectacle highlights the dynamic and awe-inspiring nature of our star, underlining the continuous monitoring and research required to understand its behavior and potential impacts on our technological infrastructure. As humanity looks skyward, such events serve as a captivating reminder of the interconnectedness between our planet and the vast cosmic theater that unfolds around.