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10 incredible images of solar flares

By: Katherine Butler on Oct. 23, 2012, 1:48 p.m.
solar flare


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Hot solar explosion

This solar flare was observed by the X-Ray Telescope on board the Hinode spacecraft on July 7, 2007. NASA estimates that this loop is about 10 million degrees Celsius.

Flares may look innocuous, but they can wreck havoc on Earth. Generally, the Earth’s atmosphere largely protects it from solar activity. However, when a massive, powerful flare makes its way towards our planet, we often take precautions.

October and November of 2003 were a particularly active time for the sun, according to Scientific American. Electric grids were monitored for surges, and people in southern Sweden lost power. Astronauts on board the International Space Station sought protection in a shielded service module, while pilots diverted their planes to lower atmospheres to avoid radiating themselves and passengers.