An M-class solar flare was observed on October 2nd 2014. The solar flare was ranked as an M7.3 class flare which is strong enough to possibly effect our atmosphere and some satellite communication but could not pass through the atmosphere to harm humans. The solar flare can be seen in the photo above as the bright flash you see on the right side just above the ejection of solar material. M-Class flares are not the type of flares that you hear about causing massive black outs and satellite damage because M-class flares are 10 times smaller than the largest X-class flares.
Another term you may have heard before is something called a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). CME’s are different than solar flares in that a CME is a collection of magnetized particles that are ejected into space. These magnetized particles take up to 3 days to reach the planet Earth and are the particles that interact with Earths atmosphere and cause major disruption to communication systems and electrical systems throughout the planet. Although CME’s could possibly cause damage to electrical systems we can still appreciate them as the source of Aurora at the north and south poles of the planet. A solar flare is the massive amounts of energy suddenly released from the sun in the form of bright flashes of light. Solar flares travel at the speed of light and reach the planet in roughly 8 minutes. Solar flares have the potential of interacting with Earths atmosphere and cause some communication issues with satellites that are in orbit but do not effect them as much as a CME would. If you would like to learn more about the differences between CME’s and Solar Flares I recommend you watch the following video:
If you are interested in how this solar flare can effect us here on Earth or keep an eye on the Sun for further activity visit the National Space Weather Prediction Center