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Solar flare provides early July 4 fireworks display

posted 3 Jul 2012, 15:09 by Mpelembe   [ updated 3 Jul 2012, 15:09 ]

The Sun has helped kick off U.S. Independence day festivities with a spectacular solar eruption caught on camera by NASA's space-based Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO). SDO

scientists say that while the flare is stunning to watch, it ranked as a relatively moderate M-class flare and poses no immediate danger to Earth.

IN SPACE (JULY 2, 2012) (NASA) - NASA scientists say the solar flare erupted from the Sun's surface at 0652 EST (1052GMT) on July 2, just two days before the US sets off fireworks of its own to celebrate the July 4 Independence Day holiday.

While the flare provided spectacular images, it was classed a M-5.6, a moderate ranking for a solar storm and not the most powerful witnessed this year.

The Sun is currently in an upswing of an 11 year solar weather cycle which is expected to reach it's peak by 2013. Scientists constantly monitor solar weather for extreme X-class eruptions, which shoot dangerous levels of radiation towards Earth and have the potential to interfere with radio and satellite communications.

Scientists have the Solar Dynamics Observatory to thank for the close-up images of the Sun's surface. Launched by NASA in 2010, the SDO is the most advanced spacecraft ever designed to study the Sun. It is equipped with a group of four high-tech telescopes which allow for the capture and transmission highly detailed images during a five year mission.