NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured images on Wednesday of the most powerful flare recorded since at least 2008, when the current solar cycle began.
The space agency said radiation from solar flares “cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground.”
However, solar flares can have an effect on communications and GPS.
National Geographic reports the flare has already caused high-frequency radio blackouts that lasted about an hour, and it may not be finished yet.
NASA has set a “strong geomagnetic storm watch” through Saturday as a result of the flare. The agency has also posted a map showing areas most likely to be impacted.
Solar cycles are 11-year periods when the sun’s activity waxes and wanes, the space agency said.
Despite the flare’s power, the sun is actually in a period of waning activity.
“We are heading toward solar minimum, but the interesting thing about that is you can still have events, they’re just not as frequent,” Rob Steenburgh, a scientist at NASA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, told Space.com. “We’re not having X-flares every day for a week, for instance ― the activity is less frequent, but no less potentially strong.”