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Sound of the fury

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11:27am, November 12, 2003

The current barrage of solar storms pummeling Earth hasn't harmed power grids on our planet or damaged satellites, but it's generated a lot of buzz. On Oct. 28, the Cassini spacecraft recorded the radio emissions of one of these flares. The burst is one of the most powerful in decades, and its signal, as recorded by Cassini, resembles the clicking of a telegraph machine followed by the rush of a jet engine, according to Donald A. Gurnett of the University of Iowa in Iowa City.

Traveling at the speed of light, the flare's radio waves took just 69 minutes to journey from the sun to the Saturn-bound spacecraft, which now lies about 8.7 times as far from Earth as our planet does from the sun. The radio signals, which are produced by electrons moving out from the solar flare, can be heard online at http://www-pw.physics.uiowa.edu/space-audio/.

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