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Solar Max

Solar Maximum is living up to its name, it would appear - lotsa fireworks, and we've got a lot more ways to watch it than last time around.

From Io9

In less than 24 hours, the Sun has unleashed a trio of X-Class solar flares. They are the first, second and third X-class eruptions of 2013, making them the most powerful of the year by a substantial margin. What's more, each burst has been more violent than the last. So uhh... what the hell is going on here?

The outbursts began late Sunday night with a powerful X1.7-explosion, pictured below. Solar flares are classified as A, B, C, M, or X, in order of intensity, with each category 10-times stronger than the one before it. Long story short: X-class surges are biggies, and Sunday's was the first of 2013.

The flare was a surprise (it's impossible to predict when or where a solar storm will roil into existence), but its arrival was anticipated; this fall, our resident star will reach the peak of its 11-year sunspot cycle. With more sunspots comes more solar activity – and as solar activity ramps up, energetic flares like the doozy belched out on Sunday night are expected to increase in both frequency and intensity.


Be sure to go look at the NASA Solar Dynamics video further down in the article which is the main reason I'm quoting it.