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News Link • Solar Flares

Radio Signals Disrupted as Biggest Solar Flare of the Year Hits Earth

•, By Erik Derr
 The solar flare occurred at 3:16 a.m. EDT and registered as a M6.5-class sun storm, a mid-level flare as far as solar activity is concerned, reports. The event coincided with a coronal mass ejection, a blast into space of super-hot solar plasma.

NASA's sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded dramatic vide that showed the flare in extreme detail.

The SDO spacecraft is one of several space-based observatories keeping track of the sun's solar weather events.

"This is the strongest flare seen so far in 2013," NASA spokeswoman Karen Fox said in a statement. She noted the sun has been relatively calm lately, but it's heading into a peak activity period.

"Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun's normal 11-year cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013," Fox said.

Today's M-class solar flare was an estimated 10 times weaker than the strongest X-class flares.

Still, M-class flares can still trigger space weather effects near Earth, such as the atmospheric displays known as the northern lights or radio frequency disturbances.

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