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SUN DAMAGE

Intense solar flare slams into Earth causing radio blackout around Atlantic Ocean

A SUNSPOT on the solar surface just erupted and caused radio blackouts around the Atlantic Ocean.

Space weather experts have had their eye on the solar flare that shot out of that sunspot and it slammed into Earth on May 10.

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The Sun emits solar flares fairly oftenCredit: Getty

The experts at SpaceWeather.com said: "Mixed-up" sunspot AR3006 exploded on May 10th (1355 UT), producing an intense X1.5-class solar flare.

"NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash.

"Radiation from the flare ionized the top of Earth's atmosphere, causing a shortwave radio blackout around the Atlantic Ocean.

"Radio transmissions at frequencies below ~30 MHz were attenuated for more than an hour after the flare."

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The radio communications affected are said to be back to normal now.

Earth's magnetic field protects us from most of the negative side effects of solar flares.

Each solar flare is made up of intense electromagnetic radiation that bursts from the Sun every so often and can send a stream of highly charged particles in our direction.

When a solar flare hits Earth's magnetic field, they cause geomagnetic storms.

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These storms play havoc with our satellites, power grid and radio communications.

Each solar storm that hits Earth is graded by severity.

Some cause radio blackouts and can pose a threat to astronauts on the ISS.

A minor storm can confuse migrating animals that rely on the Earth's magnetic field for a sense of direction.

One good thing about solar storms is that they can produce very pretty natural light displays like the Northern Lights.

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Those natural light displays are called auroras and are examples of the Earth's magnetosphere getting bombarded by the solar wind, which creates pretty green and blue displays.

The Sun is currently at the start of a new 11 year solar cycle, which usually sees eruptions and flares grow more intense and extreme.

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