Sun unleashes X6.9 class flare; Earth spared this time

August 10, 2011

An x-class solar flare on August 9, 2011 burst from sun spot region AR11263, before it rotated out of view. The image here was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in extreme ultraviolet light at 131 Angstroms (credit: NASA)

On August 9, 2011 at 3:48 a.m. EDT, the sun emitted an Earth-directed X6.9 flare, as measured by the NOAA GOES satellite.

This was the largest flare of the current solar cycle, an R3 (Strong) Radio Blackout, alternatively classified as an X6,  according to the U.S. NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.

These gigantic bursts of radiation can disrupt GPS and communications signals. In this case, scientists say the eruption took place on the side of the sun that was not facing Earth, so there’ll be little impact to satellites and communication systems, AP reports.

Space scientist Joe Kunches at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado says there were reports of brief short-wave radio disruptions in Asia, but little else.