11/19/2013 10:16 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Powerful Solar Flare Causes Radio Blackout (PHOTO, VIDEO)

There's been a lot of activity on the surface of the sun this year, and Tuesday morning was no exception.

NASA recorded a powerful solar flare that peaked at 5:26 a.m. EST on Nov. 19. The flare triggered a radio blackout at the same time, officials at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said.

Just how powerful was this explosion on the sun's surface? It was considered a X1.0 class flare, two levels less intense than the X3.3 flare that erupted on Nov. 5. That solar flare is the most powerful so far this year.

While X-class solar flares are considered the most potent, the eruptions generally pose no threat to Earth. However, a powerful flare directed toward Earth can affect satellites or astronauts in orbit.

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solar flare

An X1-class flare erupts from the right side of the sun in this image captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Nov. 19, 2013. (Image and caption courtesy of NASA/SDO)

Solar activity has ramped up in the past several months as the sun reaches the peak of its 11-year solar cycle. At that point in time -- expected to be soon -- the sun's magnetic field will undergo a complete reversal, with its north and south poles essentially "flipping."

However, it's impossible to predict exactly when this phenomenon will take place.

"It's kind of like a tide coming in or going out," Todd Hoeksema, a solar physicist at Stanford University, said in a written statement last week. "Each little wave brings a little more water in, and eventually you get to the full reversal."



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