Friday, June 13, 2014

Intense Solar Storm Could Hit Earth on Friday the 13th

X-Class Solar Flare - June 11, 2014

A solar flare bursts off the left limb of the sun in this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on June 11, 2014. 

The sun has unleashed three powerful solar flares over the past two days, and the effects of these eruptions could hit Earth this Friday the 13th — but don't worry, space weather reports show there's no cause for alarm.

The three solar bursts were all X-class flares — the most intense type of solar flare that is 10,000 times as powerful as normal background flares from the sun. The most recent flare was an X1.0 that peaked at 5:06 a.m. EDT (0906 GMT) yesterday (June 11). Two other solar bursts — one X2.2 flare (twice as powerful as yesterday’s) and an X1.5 flare (1.5 times as powerful as yesterday’s)  — occurred Tuesday. All three solar tempests erupted from the left side of the sun, NASA officials said in a statement.

Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation that are unleashed from the sun and speed out into space. They can sometimes produce waves of plasma and charged particles, called coronal mass ejections (CMEs). 

When aimed directly at Earth, CMEs can trigger geomagnetic storms and knock out communications and power grids on Earth. So far, scientists have not observed a CME associated with this morning's flare, but yesterday's flares produced a CME that could hit Earth on Friday — Friday the 13th.

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