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Another giant solar flare erupts

"Solar max has arrived," said NASA scientist Dean Pesnell.

By Brooks Hays
Another giant solar flare erupts
An X1 solar flare captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 11, 2014. (NASA/SDO/Goddard)

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.

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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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