Another giant solar flare erupts

"Solar max has arrived," said NASA scientist Dean Pesnell.
By Brooks Hays   |   June 11, 2014 at 1:05 PM

WASHINGTON, June 11 (UPI) -- The sun spouted another giant solar flare today, its third in two days. And yet again, one of NASA's many satellites was there to capture images.

Tuesday, NASA's space-based Solar Dynamics Observatory captured two giant eruptions of gas from the sun's surface. Wednesday, the same sun-watching satellite caught Earth's home star belching out yet another X-class flare -- the largest category, with M-class flares slightly less impressive, and C-class being the smallest.

The Boulder, Colorado-based U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center confirmed that Wednesday's flare caused a brief radio blackout on Earth. But officials said the flare wasn't so significant that it featured a coronal mass ejection, a burst of hot plasma sent into space.

Solar flare enthusiasts should stay tuned, because scientists say there is likely more to come. The sun is hitting its solar flare stride -- the most volatile portion of its 11-year weather cycle, called "solar maximum."

"It's back," Dean Pesnell, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, said Tuesday. "Solar max has arrived."

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