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A Breathtaking Solar Flare

by Monty Webb

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 8, 2011 at 10:12 PM

During the early morning hours of June 7th, magnetic fields above a sunspot complex became unstable and erupted.  The resulting blast produced an M2-class solar flare, an S1-class radiation storm and one unbelievable movie!

Solar physicist C. Alex Young of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center explains the event in this Youtube video.  He says, "I've never seen material released in this way before... an amazing, amazing event!"

Credit: NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

According to spaceweather.com,  much of the plasma thrown up by the blast simply fell back to the sun and that is what makes the footage so dramatic. In the movies you can see blobs of hot gas as large as Earth making bright splashes where they hit the stellar surface. Some plasma, however, reached escape velocity and left the sun in the form of a coronal mass ejection (CME).  The CME should deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field during the late hours of June 8th or June 9th. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras when the CME arrives.

 

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