Beware the flares

From ABCNews.com:

The sun has had three major solar flares on its surface in the past two days that have affected communications on Earth and could send a shockwave through Earth this Friday, according to the [US] National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The “solar events” caused brief blackouts in high frequency communications when they struck, twice on Tuesday morning and once [Wednesday] morning, all between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. EDT.

Solar flares are bursts of radiation on the sun’s surface. The disturbance to Earth’s atmosphere can disrupt GPS and communications signals, according to NASA.

One of the flares created a “coronal mass ejection” that actually could come into contact with Earth on Friday, according to NOAA. The ejection is essentially a huge cloud of plasma that could hit the Earth and cause a shock wave, affecting communications systems. If an ejection were to hit Earth on Friday, scientists expect it would only cause a minor geo-magnetic storm, according to NOAA.

The flares were observed by NASA, which posted stunning photos and videos of the events on its website.

Video/pic: Goddard/SDO/NASA

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