X-class solar flare bursts from the Sun - but Earth isn't at risk

This may sound very serious - but what is a X-class flare and what does it mean for us?

 Solar flares (illustrative). (photo credit: PIXABAY)
Solar flares (illustrative).
(photo credit: PIXABAY)

An X-class solar flare exploded from the Sun, the European Space Agency (ESA) reported on its Twitter account. This sounds very serious, but what does it mean?

A solar flare essentially is a massive burst of electromagnetic radiation in the solar atmosphere. They can happen when radiation is emitted after charged plasma particles get boosted by magnetic energy. 

This blast came from a sunspot region called "AR3256," the ESA explained. These kinds of solar flares can be understood as basic occurrences of space weather.

Works of science fiction have portrayed solar flares as apocalyptic blasts of light, fire and radiation that could devastate the Earth. This is a grossly exaggerated understanding of how solar flares work.

Are the flares dangerous?

Solar flares aren't at all dangerous for humans, at least not directly. But in the long term, it can cause other issues.

This blast was categorized as X-class, which is the biggest known type of solar flare and can cause noticeable effects on earth, like radio blackouts.

While X denotes the category of intensity, the number signifies strength. At X1.2, today's blast isn't the largest the Sun can produce. 

So did this blast have any impact? Yes, according to the ESA, it did cause some blackouts on the day side of the earth - but nothing to worry about.