When twisted magnetic fields on the sun snap and unleash their energy, it's the most ostentatious fireworks that grab the headlines. Brilliant explosions in the sun's outer atmosphere can send billion-ton clouds of charged particles speeding towards Earth, where they can short-circuit electrical power grids and cause large-scale blackouts. The sudden release of magnetic energy can also generate solar flares, which pour a torrent of ultraviolet light and X rays into space. Solar flares can disable satellites and harm space-walking astronauts.
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