Major X4.5 solar flare erupts from Region 3663 — fourth X-class flare in 3 days

x4.5 solar flare may 6 2024

A powerful, long-duration solar flare measuring X4.5 erupted from Active Region 3663 at 06:35 UTC on May 6, 2024. The event started at 05:38 and ended at 06:47 UTC.

This is the 4th and the strongest X-class solar flare from Region 3663 — following X1.6 on May 3, and X1.3 and X1.2 on May 5. It is also the 3rd strongest solar flare of Solar Cycle 25 — following X6.3 on February 22, 2024, and X5.0 on December 31, 2023.

No radio sweeps were observed with the event but a coronal mass ejection (CME) signature was observed in coronagraph imagery beginning at 07:12 UTC in SOHO/LASCO C2 imagery. The CME was modeled and shown to be narrow and oriented far northward of the Sun-Earth line. No Earth impacts are expected from this event.

Radio frequencies were forecast to be most degraded over eastern Europe, the Middle East, NE Africa, Asia, the Indian Ocean, and the West Pacific at the time of the flare.

goes-x-ray-flux-1-minute 3 days to may 6 2024
drap x4.5 solar flare may 6 2024
x4.5 solar flare may 6 2024 0634 utc aia 304
X4.5 solar flare on May 6, 2024. Image credit: NASA SDO/AIA 304, Helioviewer, The Watchers
x4.5 solar flare may 6 2024 0634 utc aia 131
X4.5 solar flare on May 6, 2024. Image credit: NASA SDO/AIA 131, Helioviewer, The Watchers
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X4.5 solar flare on May 6, 2024. Image credit: NASA SDO/AIA 211, Helioviewer, The Watchers

Solar activity reached very high levels in 24 hours to 00:30 UTC on May 6, with two X-class flares and nine M-class flares observed throughout the period. This period also saw a marked increase of the background X-ray flux and the overall intensity and frequency of flare activity.

Region 3663 (beta-gamma-delta) produced an X1.3/1b flare at 06:01 UTC and an X1.2/1b flare at 11:54 UTC on May 5, along with two R2 – Moderate events and four R1 – Minor events.

The region continued a trend of growth with the consolidation of mixed polarity spots noted in the intermediate spot area.

Region 3664 (beta-delta) increased in areal extent and total spot count, and produced three R1 – Minor events.

Minor growth was observed in new Region 3668 (beta) while new Region 3669 (alpha) was stable. The remaining regions were either stable or in decay.

sunspots on may 6 2024
Sunspots on May 6, 2024. Image credit: NASA SDO/HMI

Coronagraph imagery from SOHO/LASCO has been restored following an outage that began around 23:27 UTC. All CME events that occurred during the outage have been analyzed and no Earth-directed CMEs were detected, SWPC forecasters said.

Solar activity is expected to be at high levels through May 8, with M-class flares expected (90%) and a high chance for X-class flares (50%), due to the flare potential of Regions 3663 and 3664.

There is a chance (30%) for the greater than 10 MeV proton flux to reach S1 – Minor solar radiation storm levels through May 8 due to the flare potential of Regions 3663 and 3664.

rtsw 3 days to may 6 2024

Ambient solar wind conditions were observed until around 15:00 UTC on May 5, when a mild enhancement, likely associated with the arrival of the CME produced by the X1.6 flare on May 3, commenced. Total field strength increased to 14 nT late in the day and the Bz component was sustained southward, by as much as -12 nT, after 18:30 UTC. Solar wind speeds fluctuated between 300 – 390 km/s and the phi angle was variable.

Periods of G1 – Minor to G2 – Moderate storming are likely today due to CME activity and positive polarity coronal hole high speed stream (CH HSS) influences. Active conditions are likely on May 7 with the expected onset of another positive polarity CH HSS.

estimated-planetary-k-index may 6 2024


1 Forecast Discussion – Issued: 2024 May 06 0030 UTC – Prepared by the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, Space Weather Prediction Center


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One Comment

  1. Far stronger flares will be produced in the coming months, especially when our dark star approaches the inner part of the solar system and gets nearer to the Sun.

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