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WATCH: Cinco de Mayo's Stunning Solar Flare and the Phoenix Prominence Eruption

May 07, 2015 04:54 PM EDT

It's a bit belated, but happy Cinco de Mayo! While citizens in Mexico and the US alike were celebrating Mexico's unlikely victory against French forces in 1862 by throwing parades, singing songs, and enjoying A LOT of tequila, the Sun was having its own kind of celebration. According to NASA, the Sun launched an impressive solar flare on May 5.

The flare, which peaked around 6:11 pm EDT, was noted as an X2.7-class flare, after being captured on video by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. You can watch a clip of the flare in action below.

The X-class denotes that it was a member of the most intense solar flares, but it wasn't at the head of that class.

An X3 flare, for instance, would be three times as intense as an X1 class solar flare, and an X1 flare would be significantly stronger than any M-class flare - the stage of flare known to cause small to medium radio blackouts and moderate radiation storms. On November 4, 2003, the NOAA and NASA reported that an X28 solar flare had slashed across our blue planet, triggering a monstrous X-ray eruption twice as strong as anything detected since satellites gained the ability to start spotting them in the mid-1970s. To this date, it is the strongest flare ever witnessed.

Harmful flares can also serve up strong geomagnetic disruption, which occurs when solar winds press on Earth's magnetosphere. Not only can this cause auroras as far as over North America, but it can also infleunce magnetic navigation and even energize ground induced currents (GICs) - which can disrupt power distribution through underground cables.

And while 2015's Cinco de Mayo flare was no X28, it certainly wasn't to be taken lightly. NASA reported that it was indeed capable of disrupting GPS and radio signaling in our atmosphere for a limited amount of time. (Scroll to read on...)


[Credit: NASA Goddard/SDO]

And it seems that the Sun really wants to give us a show this spring. Just last April, our yellow star showed the SDO a six-hour event that was coined "the Phoenix Prominence Eruption." Arguably even more stunning than May 5th's flare, the wing-like eruption launched material and radiation in various wavelengths of the extreme ultraviolet light. Check that out below.


[Credit: NASA Goddard/SDO]

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