By: Jennifer Hong - Staff Writer
Published: Jun 9, 2021

Solar Flare Swings Near Earth

A solar flare erupted from the sun with minimal impact on Earth. NASA captured the impressive display and scientists say it was a medium-sized event. The flare peaked early Tuesday and created a large cloud that appeared to cover almost half the surface of the sun.

A cloud of charged particles erupted from the sun’s outer atmosphere and is expected to pass by Earth late Wednesday or early Thursday, causing a minor disruption to Earth’s magnetic field, according to the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.

“This wasn’t really such a big event,” said Michael Hesse, chief of the space weather laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “It was spectacular to watch, but not big in terms of hazards to the Earth.”

At most, the cloud that erupted from the sun may cause some brief interruptions to high-frequency radio communications, especially closer to the North and South poles, said Joe Kunches, a space scientist at SWPC. Some global positioning devices also may make tiny errors, he said.

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to be a direct hit on the Earth,” Kunches said. “It’s going to be, if you use a baseball analogy, a little bit low and outside on the pitch.”

The aurora borealis also may be more visible Thursday or Friday night, he said.

Images of the flare were recorded by an orbiting satellite called the Solar Dynamics Observatory. The photos and video were the most spectacular that the satellite has captured since it was launched last year, Hesse said.

A much larger solar flare erupted Saturday, but NASA didn’t capture images because it happened on the side of the sun opposite Earth, Hesse said.

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