14/05/2013 06:47 BST

Two Massive X-Class Solar Flares Erupt Within 14 Hours Of Each Other

You wait all year for a X-class solar flare and then two come along in 24 hours.

On 12 May a solar eruption was spotted by Nasa's Solar dynamics Observatory (SDO), part of its heliophysics fleet observing the sun.

Fourteen hours later an even bigger flare blasted solar material into space in a coronal mass ejection (CME).

The flare captured by the SDO

An X-class flare is the strongest class and the number following denotes its intensity. The first was an X1.7 class and the second an X2.8.

The material ejected from CMEs can affect the Earth if directed towards it.

Smaller eruptions are responsible for phenomena such as the Northern Lights while larger ones can cause electrical blackouts and damage satellites.

Neither of the two recent flares were directed towards Earth but they could disrupt Nasa's STEREO-B, Messenger and Spitzer spacecraft.

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