Increased numbers of solar flares have become common at the moment, as the sun’s normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up.
In July, the sun emitted its strongest solar flare of the summer, causing vivid aurora borealis, or northern lights, in parts of southern Canada and northern United States. Also in July, the sun emitted a medium-intensity flare believed to be the reason for India’s worst power outage in history.
According to James R. Webb, astronomy professor in the Department of Physics, solar flares are a pretty common occurrence, typically occurring in cycles. The current cycle is expected to peak in 2013.