by Clara Moskowitz
09 August 2011
An extremely powerful solar flare, the largest in over four years, rocked the sun early Tuesday (Aug. 9), but is unlikely to wreak any serious havoc here on Earth, scientists say.
“It was a big flare,” said Joe Kunches, a space scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Space Weather Prediction Center. “We lucked out because the site of the eruption at the sun was not facing the Earth, so we will probably feel no ill effects.”
Today’s solar flare began at 3:48 a.m. EDT (0748 GMT), and was rated a class X6.9 on the three-class scale scientists use to measure the strength of solar flares. The strongest type of solar eruption is class X, while class C represents the weakest and class M flares are medium-strength events. [Video: Aug. 9 Solar Flare Briefly Knocks Out HF Radio]