By Brandon Mercer

(CBS SF) — A massive solar flare flooded the sunlit portion of the planet Tuesday morning with X-rays powerful enough to disrupt GPS navigation, and airplane and maritime communication for several minutes.

The “M-Class” flare is the second most powerful on the scale, with the Tuesday cosmic event registering an M6.5 on the power scale.

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There remains a 70 percent chance of more M-class flares, and a 15 percent chance of even more disruptive X-class flares Tuesday.

A solar flare is an explosion where twisted magnetic fields let loose their energy from the surface of the sun. These are often above sunspots large enough to swallow the entire Earth.   The flares contain X-rays, gamma rays, and other electromagnetic radiation, capable of producing various effects on the skies and technology on earth.

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They are classified as X-Class, or very big flares that can plunge the entire planet into radio blackouts.  The next class is M-class, which are medium-sized, and primarily affect radio communication around the poles. s here on Earth.


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Space Weather Message Code: SUMXM5
Serial Number: 118
Issue Time: 2014 Jul 08 1653 UTC
SUMMARY: X-ray Event exceeded M5
Begin Time: 2014 Jul 08 1606 UTC
Maximum Time: 2014 Jul 08 1620 UTC
End Time: 2014 Jul 08 1630 UTC
X-ray Class: M6.5
Optical Class: 2b
Location: N10E54
NOAA Scale: R2 - Moderate NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
Potential Impacts: Area of impact centered primarily on sub-solar point on the sunlit side of Earth.
Radio - Limited blackout of HF (high frequency) radio communication for tens of minutes.