Surface of Sun Erupts With Powerful Flares

Strongest CME measured this year

By Tim Persinko
|  Wednesday, Mar 7, 2012  |  Updated 2:58 PM EDT
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The sun's surface roils with geomagnetic activity.  On Tuesday, the strongest storm recorded this year released radiation into space.  Meteorologist Tom Kierein explains.  Video courtesy of NASA.

Tom Kierein

The sun's surface roils with geomagnetic activity. On Tuesday, the strongest storm recorded this year released radiation into space. Meteorologist Tom Kierein explains. Video courtesy of NASA.

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A powerful series of storms roiled the surface of the sun this week, sending flares of electromagnetic activity heading towards Earth.

While solar flares have the potential to disrupt terrestrial communication systems, the series of eruptions that began on Sunday and have continued through the start of this week are not expected to have a significant impact on satellite and radio communication.

The strongest solar flare measured this year took place at 7:02 p.m. on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.  That flare, also called a coronal mass ejection, ranked as an x-class storm, the strongest type of geomagnetic storm on the sun's surface.

The National Weather Service predicts continuing solar activity for the next few days.  Radiation emitted from the earlier flares is expected to reach Earth but only as a "glancing blow," causing limited disruptions.  Long-range satellite communications, like GPS devices, may be temporarily affected.

Another observable affect of the radiation arrival - amplification of the aurora effect.  Clear skies forecasted for the rest of the week should lead to good viewing for night skywatchers.

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