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Solar flares may damage comsat links

MOSCOW, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Russian scientists warned Wednesday that U.S. and other satellites could be damaged by a new wave of intense solar flares.

Russia's geophysical forecast center said in a statement reported by the RIA Novosti news agency that it predicted "powerful solar flares, vast explosions in the sun's atmosphere around sunspots, to occur in the near future."

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"Solar flares can expel billion-ton clouds of electrified gas or plasma into space at a speed of 1 million miles per hour. Eruptions from the sun can damage satellites and disrupt electrical and communications systems on Earth, RIA Novosti said.

"An X9 solar flare was registered last Tuesday. Over 30 years of regular X-ray observations of the sun, only about 25 powerful flares have been registered, and they had never previously been observed in the solar minimum [the lowest point of the sun's 11-year activity cycle]. This is surprising, because normally such flares occur at the peak of the sun's activity," the center said according to the RIA Novosti report.

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