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Don't freak out, but the center of the sun exploded: Solar flare CMEs headed our way

Solar Storm


This false-color image provided by NASA shows a solar flare, lower center, erupting from the sun on Thursday, July 12, 2012.


This image combines two sets of observations of the sun at 10:45 AM EDT, July 12, 2012 from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to give an impression of what the sun looked like shortly before it unleashed an X-class flare.

An X1.4 class solar flare exploded from the center of the sun on Thursday, but it's unclear whether Earth will feel the effects. The flare, peaking on July 12, erupted from "Active Region 1520," a giant sunspot.

The associated coronal mass ejections -- described by NASA as "huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the sun" -- have the potential to produce Earthly disturbances "with sometimes catastrophic results."

Disruptions to the magnetic field, and to our power grids and communication systems, are possible according to some space weather forecasters. NASA and NOAA had inconsistent predictions about the severity, speed and arrival time of the charged particle blast (the Washington Post has a detailed breakdown on the breakdown in communication between the federal agencies).