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Spectacular images of solar flare recorded

The eruption is not likely to have much impact on earth. The eruption is not likely to have much impact on earth. (NASA Photo via Getty Images)
Associated Press / June 9, 2011

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WASHINGTON — A solar flare erupted from the sun in an impressive display captured by NASA cameras, but scientists say the medium-size event will have a minimal impact, if any, on earth.

The flare peaked early Tuesday and created a large cloud that appeared to cover almost half the surface of the sun, NASA said. A cloud of charged particles erupted from the sun’s outer atmosphere and was expected to pass by earth late yesterday or early today, causing a minor disruption to earth’s magnetic field, according to the National Weather Service’s Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colo.

“This wasn’t really such a big event,’’ said Michael Hesse, chief of the space weather laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “It was spectacular to watch, but not big in terms of hazards to the earth.’’

The cloud may cause brief interruptions to high-frequency radio communications, said Joe Kunches, a space scientist at the weather prediction center. Global positioning devices also may make tiny errors, he said.

The aurora borealis also may be more visible today or tomorrow night, he said.

Images of the flare were recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, an orbiting satellite. The photos and video were the most spectacular that the satellite has captured since its launch last year, Hesse said.