Tuesday’s outburst from sun’s edge may be the strongest of the modern era.

A flare released by the sun on Tuesday could be the most powerful ever witnessed, a monster X-ray eruption twice as strong as anything detected since satellites were capable of spotting them starting in the mid-1970s.

THE STRONGEST FLARES on record, in 1989 and 2001, were rated at X20. This one is at least that powerful, scientists say. But because it saturated the X-ray detector aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES satellite that monitors the sun, a full analysis has not been done.

The satellite was blinded for 11 minutes.
Craig DeForest, a solar physicist at the Southwest Research Institute, said others in his field are discussing the possibility that Tuesday’s flare was an X40.

“I’d take a stand and say it appears to be about X40 based on extrapolation of the X-ray flux into the saturated period,” DeForest told Space.com. That estimate may even be conservative, he said.

The flare leapt from…

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