Scientists from the Space Weather Prediction Center have found a powerful X1-class flare from sunspot AR2017, resulting in release of shock waves on March 29, 2014. The shock waves rippled through the Sun's atmosphere at speed of 11 million miles per hour. Although the sunspot AR2017 is diminishing, but has the tendency to generate additional flares in the near future.
The shock waves resulted in emission of radio signals that blacked out radio signals on Earth for several minutes, causing emission of only static signals. Scientists said that if the massive flares could directly hit the environment of earth, it could cause damage to astronauts, orbiting spacecraft, and satellites. NASA officials said the shock waves could also interfere with GPS and other communications signals on earth.
Some ripples in Earth's magnetic field, called as magnetic crochet, were also generated with the transmission of shock waves. Scientists said that these disturbances and ripples were caused during the time of flares compared to the magnetic ripples which were caused due to coronal mass ejections (CME).
They predicted that the combination of CME's and X1-class solar flare could result in a minor geomagnetic storm on April 2, which could intensify Earth's Northern Lights. Similar incidents of emission of solar flares took place in January and February.
There are in total five categories to measure a scale of solar flares which considers A-class category as the weakest flare followed by B, C, M and X-classes. Each class increments with 10 times increase in magnitude of solar flare like X-class is ten times more powerful than M and 100 times stronger than a C.
Further, the strength of each class is indicated by a number like X3-class will have more strength of solar flare compared with X1-class.