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Warning for solar flares

Microwave bursts may serve as warning shots

1:47pm, August 10, 2010

IGUASSU FALLS, Brazil — Fluctuating bursts of microwave energy from the sun could provide imminent warning of the huge solar flares known as coronal mass ejections, new research hints.

During periods of intense solar activity, immense clouds of radiation and charged particles erupt from the sun’s surface. When these coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, strike and envelope Earth, they can disrupt radio communications, overload power grids and zap Earth-orbiting satellites, Pierre Kaufmann, a solar physicist at Mackenzie Presbyterian University in Sao Paulo, Brazil, reported August 9 at the Meeting of the Americas.

When Kaufmann and colleague Rodney V. Souza recently studied the solar emissions associated with 10 CMEs that occurred during an intense period of solar activity in October and November 2003, they noticed that the sun emitted bursts of microwave energy during or before each one. For three of the CMEs, the burst coincided with the flares’ erup

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