Radiation signals ultimate intensity of explosive outbursts, analysis finds
AIA/SDO/GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER/NASA
Outpourings of X-rays can reveal when the sun is prepping a big outburst, new research suggests.
Researchers analyzed the X-rays shot out by the sun before and during roughly 50,000 solar explosions, called flares. The researchers discovered that the flood of X-rays preceding a solar flare can be used to determine the flare’s ultimate intensity. The most intense flares fling particles toward Earth at nearly the speed of light; such particles can disable satellites, impair radio communications and pose a health hazard to astronauts. By monitoring solar X-rays, astronomers can identify an upcoming X-class flare, the most intense designation, about 6.7 minutes before the flare reaches its peak, the researchers report in a paper to be published in Space Weather.
“We can’t forecast exactly when flares are going to occur yet, so we’re really excited to even have a