Powerful solar flare erupts

23:50, Feb 25 2014

A massive solar flare fired off from the sun has been captured on high-definition video by Nasa's Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The powerful X4.9-class solar flare was one of the strongest sun eruptions in recent years, and the strongest so far in 2014.

It was unleashed from long-lived sunspot AR1990, which is just beginning its third trip across the Earthside of the sun. Spaceweather.com noted the sunspot was an active producer of flares during its previous transits.

Despite its impressive size, the flare was unlikely to have much impact on the Earth, as the blast site was not facing towards this planet.

The US National Weather Service's space weather prediction centre said the coronal mass ejection that raced away from the sun shortly after the flare was not headed directly at Earth.

"Analysis continues to determine what, if any, geomagnetic impact this will have," the centre said.

A slow-rising solar radiation storm was in progress as a result of the eruption, with the region continuing to rotate into a better position to affect Earth over the next week or so.

Spaceweather.com said radio emissions from shock waves at the leading edge of the coronal mass ejection suggested an expansion velocity near 2000 kilometres per second, or 7.1 million kilometres per hour.

"If such a fast-moving cloud did strike Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storms could be severe."