June 8, 2011
WASHINGTON — An unusual solar flare observed by a NASA space observatory on Tuesday could cause some disruptions to satellite communications and power on Earth over the next day or so, officials said.
The potent blast from the Sun unleashed a firestorm of radiation on a level not witnessed since 2006, and will likely lead to moderate geomagnetic storm activity by Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service.
“This one was rather dramatic,” said Bill Murtagh, program coordinator at the NWS’s Space Weather Prediction Center, describing the M-2 (medium-sized) solar flare that peaked at 1:41 am Eastern time in the United States, or 0541 GMT.
“We saw the initial flare occurring and it wasn’t that big but then the eruption associated with it — we got energy particle radiation flowing in and we got a big coronal mass injection,” he said.