Article image

Massive solar flares erupt towards Earth causing radio blackouts

In a remarkable display of the sun’s power, new sunspot region AR3663 has unleashed two potent solar flares within a mere six-hour window. These explosive events, reported by the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, have already had a tangible impact on Earth’s radio communications.

Sunspot region AR3663 lashes out

Solar physicist Keith Strong, posting on the X platform, explains that last night’s X-flare was the 11th largest flare so far this cycle. 

“X FLARE! Sunspot region AR3663 just produced an X1.7 flare, the 11th largest flare so far this cycle. It was an impulsive flare lasting a total of about 25 minutes and peaking at 02:22 U.T,” Strong enthused. “This is the 30th X flare so far during SC25, compared to just 19 at the same stage in SC24.”

X-class solar flare was powerful eruptions

The first eruption occurred on the night of May 2, when the sun released an X-class solar flare, the most powerful category of flares. This event followed a strong geomagnetic storm warning issued by the NOAA on May 2, 2024.

Peaking at 10:22 p.m. EDT (0222 GMT) and ending shortly after at 10:27 p.m. EDT (0227 GMT), this flare caused widespread shortwave radio blackouts across Australia, Japan, and much of China.

M-class flare was a secondary and lesser strike

Just six hours later, on the morning of May 3, the sun unleashed another powerful flare. This time, an M-class solar flare, the second most powerful category, peaked around 4:00 a.m. EDT (0800 GMT).

The proximity of these two events has left astronomers intrigued and eager to study the underlying mechanisms.

Potential coronal mass ejection (CME)

At the time of both eruptions, the explosive sunspot was facing Earth. This orientation raises the possibility that at least one of the solar flares may have been accompanied by a coronal mass ejection (CME).

CMEs are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic field that can have significant effects on Earth’s magnetic field and technology.

Ongoing analysis and monitoring

Scientists are currently analyzing data from various solar observatories to determine the presence and characteristics of any associated CMEs.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and its Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (LASCO) instrument have captured imagery that suggests a northward-directed CME after the X-class flare.

Threat of X-class flares

The forecast for the coming days indicates a likelihood of moderate solar activity, with a chance of more X-class flares between May 3 and May 5. These powerful flares have the potential to cause further radio disruptions and even impact Earth’s magnetic field, leading to geomagnetic storms and beautiful aurorae.

Stay tuned

As the sun continues to exhibit heightened activity, scientists remain vigilant in their monitoring efforts. The recent solar flares serve as a reminder of the sun’s immense power and the importance of understanding its impact on our planet.

Through ongoing research and observation, we can better prepare for and mitigate the effects of these cosmic events on our technology-dependent world.


Like what you read? Subscribe to our newsletter for engaging articles, exclusive content, and the latest updates.

Check us out on EarthSnap, a free app brought to you by Eric Ralls and


News coming your way
The biggest news about our planet delivered to you each day