MSNBC.COM - The sun sent out a flare powerful enough to disrupt radio communications over Europe today, along with an eruption of electrically charged particles that just might sweep past Earth's magnetic field in time to spark a Fourth of July show of auroral fireworks.
The M5.6-class solar flare, observed by NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory at 6:52 a.m. ET (10:52 GMT), was almost powerful enough to cross over from the medium M-class category to an extreme X-class event, SpaceWeather.com's Tony Phillips noted. "A pulse of X-rays and UV radiation from the flare illuminated Earth's upper atmosphere, producing waves of ionization over Europe," he wrote.
Such waves can spark bursts of radio static, as recorded by Rob Stammes in Norway and noted by the National Weather Service's Space Weather Prediction Center. "Radio blackout storms have been observed in the past 24 hours," the center reported on its Facebook page. click here to read more