Sun fires ‘strongest’ flare causing radio blackout and threatening satellites

A major solar flare erupted from the sun in one of the strongest solar storms ever recorded.

The sun fired its most powerful kind of flare, an X1-class solar flare, that peaked at 11:35 a.m. EDT (1535 GMT) on October 28.

Solar flares are massive eruptions of radiation from the sun that send charged particles streaming outward from the star.

Experts classify them in a letter system, with C-class storms being relatively weak, M-class more moderate and X-class flares as the strongest.

A NASA statement explained: "X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength.

"An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc. Flares that are classified X10 or stronger are considered unusually intense."

According to an alert from the US Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the flare caused a temporary, but strong, radio blackout across the sunlit side of Earth – central South America.

The solar eruption, which NASA labelled a "significant solar flare," was captured in real-time video by the space agency's Solar Dynamics Observatory, Space.com reports.

It is estimated that a huge eruption of charged particles, could reach Earth just in time for Halloween and could supercharge Earth's northern lights and potentially interfere with satellite-based communications.

NASA officials tweeted: "POW! The sun just served up a powerful flare."

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The news comes after reports that a storm that has been going on the planet for hundreds of years – is much bigger than previously estimated, according to Nasa scientists.

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is so big that it could swallow our home planet Earth in one single gulp.

New data from Nasa's Juno space probe has revealed that the massive storm on the gas giant is shaped like a pancake, and floats around at cloud level on the windy planet instead of going any further into its atmosphere.

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