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Massive Solar Flare Will Hit Earth Today... But Don't Panic

13/06/2014 09:27 BST | Updated 13/06/2014 09:59 BST

NASA has reported that a shockwave from a massive solar flare will hit the Earth on Friday -- possibly knocking out communications and causing disruptions to satellites.

The latest flare caused what is called a 'coronal mass ejection', which is where the sun shoots ridiculously huge amounts of plasma into deep space. Scientists have confirmed that the plasma will come into contact with Earth at some point on Friday, causing a 'shockwave' that'll temporarily knock out radio signals and cause severe disruption to satellites.

Luckily it won't penetrate the atmosphere, meaning only satellites and instruments orbiting at relatively high altitudes will be affected.

solar flare 2014

The shockwave is the result of three X-class solar flares taking place in just two days. NASA believes that there's nothing unusual about it though -- it's just part of the Sun's standard 11-year weather cycle leading up to what's called the 'solar maximum'.

During this time the Sun experiences increased surface activity including frequent and more powerful solar flares.

Scientists had originally predicted that the Sun would reach its 'solar maximum' in 2013, but a dip in activity appeared to disprove this. It now appears that the Sun has indeed begun its cyclic build up of activity.

Large bursts of solar radiation are potentially incredibly dangerous... if you happened to be any closer to the Sun. But thanks to the distance and the Earth's atmosphere, humans are completely unaffected with the only side effects being disrupted communications and geomagnetic storms.