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Solar eruption produces stunning display


Staff writers
January 5, 2013 — As the world celebrated the coming new year, a solar eruption on the sun produced a stunning display that would top any fire works show on Earth.


The Earth is about 12,713 kilometres in diameter, but this small eruption is still about 20 times that size (Courtesy NASA)
The Earth is about 12,713 kilometres in diameter, but this small eruption is still about 20 times that size (Courtesy NASA)

The "minor" solar eruption was caught on camera by NASA's sun watching spacecraft, the Solar Dynamics Observator. 

Pictures show plasma being shot out so high, that it could engulf over 20 Earths, according to NASA officials.

The eruption occurred over the course of four hours, extending over 250,000 kilometres out from the sun. 

Magnetic forces were behind the shooting flares but with not enough to escape the sun's gravity, the plasma simply fell back into the star. 

The solar activity was part of an 11-year cycle that is set to peak in 2014. 

Scientists have a scale to measure the extremes of a solar flare.

Among the categories are A,B, C, M and X, which go according to their peak flux and range from small to extreme. 

Large solar eruptions are dangerous to electronics on Earth, as well as any spacecraft that lie in their way. 

The blast of electromagnetic radiation could be lethal to astronauts as well as lead to radio disruptions and, in some extreme cases, power failure.

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