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The sun emitted quite the light show on 19 December, and US space agency NASA caught it all on film.
More specifically, the sun emitted a solar flare that peaked between 7.24-7.28pm EST (12.14-12.28am on 20 December, Irish time). NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, which constantly watches the sun, captured an image of the event.
Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation, but they can’t pass through Earth’s atmosphere to harm humans on the ground, NASA said. If they are intense enough, however, the flares can disrupt GPS and communications signals, as the radiation can disturb the level of the atmosphere in which these signals travel.
NASA has classified the 19 December flare as an X1.8-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides information about its strength – the higher the number, the higher the intensity. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, NASA explained.
Watch the agency’s video of the 19 December solar eruptions, Holiday Lights On the Sun, here: