The Sun produced a new, middle-class solar flare on Friday, August 17, experts at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), in Greenbelt, Maryland, announce. The event was cataloged as an M5.6-class flare.
Solar physicists say that C-class solar flares are the weakest the Sun can produce, whereas X-class events are the most powerful. An M-class flare is somewhere between these two. Our parent star has been releasing a lot of these flares lately, as it's heading towards a new solar maximum, in 2013.
NASA reports that the gigantic burst of radiation peaked at 9:02 pm EDT (0102 GMT, August 18). The energetic particles it produced are not heading towards Earth. If they had been, they would have only produced small blackouts at high latitudes, and beautiful auroral lights.
X-class flares have the potential to disrupt communications and power grids, and to damage satellites in Earth's orbits. The new event was observed using the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).