This is an image of a flare occurring on the Sun, as viewed by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). SDO is a spacecraft that looks at the sun in a variety of wavelengths and temperatures to help scientists see and study different solar events. For example, this wavelength,131 angstroms, allows the brightening associated with flares to be extremely visible. Follow the link below to view a NASA video of this flare seen in multiple wavelengths:
(See http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/sftheory/flare.htm for more details.)
Above is a graph that allows us to measure flare intensity using data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) spacecraft. The vertical axis is X-ray flux and the horizontal axis is time (Universal Time or greenwich mean time, the time zone used as the official scientific time). Displayed in the top right-hand corner is the date, time, and X-ray flux value corresponding to wherever one moves their cursor along the graph. Shown here is the peak time and flux value of a flare that occurred on August 7. The maximum X-ray flux value of this flare was 1.37e-5 W/m^2, which we classify as an M1.3 flare.
Special thanks to Dustin Mayfield-Jones!