The Classification of X-ray Solar Flares
or "Solar Flare Alphabet Soup"

A solar flare is an explosion on the Sun that happens when energy stored in twisted magnetic fields (usually above sunspots) is suddenly released. Flares produce a burst of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to x-rays and gamma-rays. [more information]

Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.

This figure shows a series of solar flares detected by NOAA satellites in July 2000:

Each category for x-ray flares has nine subdivisions ranging from, e.g., C1 to C9, M1 to M9, and X1 to X9. It's a logartithmic scale. M1 is 10 times stronger than C1. X1 is 10 times stronger than M1, and so on.

In the figure, above, the three indicated flares registered (from left to right) X2, M5, and X6. The X6 flare triggered a radiation storm around Earth nicknamed the Bastille Day event.

Peak (W/m2)between 1 and 8 Angstroms

 I < 10-6

 10-6 < = I < 10-5

 10-5 < = I < 10-4

 I > = 10-4

This explanation of Solar Flare Classification is brought to you by title loans online and BingoPort,
the only place you can play Bingo online for free. It is also brought to you by online cricket betting, where the outcome of the game is heavily dependent on the weather.