The sun shot off three major solar flares this week that could send a shockwave through Earth this Friday.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), flares from the sun caused temporary blackouts in high frequency radio communication between 7 and 9 a.m. eastern on Tuesday morning.
Solar flares occur when the sun ejects a sudden blast of radiation. Although our atmosphere protects us from this radiation, the flares can temporarily interrupt radio and GPS communications as they pass through our orbital neighborhood.
NASA captured some awesome pictures and videos of Tuesday’s flares from their Goddard Space Flight Center.
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Flares are often – but not always – accompanied by coronal mass ejections. The ejection is a huge cloud of electrons, ions and atoms that pass through the sun’s corona and are ejected into space. When the ejections hit earth’s atmosphere, they can cause shockwaves and geo-magnetic storms. Scientists from the NOAA say they are expecting a minor geomagnetic storm on Friday as an ejection from the recent flares reaches earth.
The NOAA does not expect the ejections to cause any significant problems. They say that if anything, people watching the aurora borealis will just see an extra special show.