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Huge Solar Flare to Hit the Earth as the Sun Erupts.

  1. A massive solar flare will hit Earth on Thursday and Friday, bringing with it the threat of power and GPS blackouts but also improving the chance of seeing the northern lights. The burst of charged particles which has been released by the Sun and is rushing towards Earth is the biggest since August and comes as the Sun begins the most active stage of its 11-year cycle. The sun erupts with one of the largest solar flares of this solar cycle in this NASA handout photo taken on March 6, 2012.

  2. The charged particles, which will arrive at about four million miles per hour, have the potential to disrupt any magnetic, radio or radiation emissions. This means they could trip out electrical power grids, wreak havoc with GPS systems and disrupt communication systems, putting flight schedules at risk. This image provided by NASA on March 7, 2012, combines observations made by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in several extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, highlighting a bright X-class flare toward the upper left of the sun’s disk on March 6.

  3. NASA said the first of the two flares on March 6-7 - classified in the potent X class and facing directly at the Earth - was the biggest this year and one of the largest of this cycle known as the solar minimum, which began in early 2007. In fact, it was second only to a stronger one that erupted in August. The sun erupts with one of the largest solar flares of this solar cycle in this multi-coloured NASA photo taken on March 6, 2012. This flare was categorised as an X5.4.

  4. This image dated 3 October 2011 shows a quiet corona and upper transition region of the Sun.

  5. This image dated 13 February 2011 shows sunspot 1158 unleashing the strongest solar flare so far, an M6.6-category blast.