Back-to-back solar flares to ring in the new year
Thursday, January 2, 2014, 3:30 PM -
On Tuesday, people from around the world came together to usher in the new year -- and it looks like the sun got in on the action, too.
NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured two mid-level solar flares -- one on December 31 and one on January 1, 2014.
They were an M6.4 and M9.9, respectively.
"Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation," the space agency explains.
"Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however -- when intense enough -- they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, anywhere from minutes to hours."
The stunning images were captured by SDO, which collects new data on the sun every 12 seconds.