A report issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a unit of the U.S. Department of Commerce, said that researchers at its Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed increased activity in two areas ofWednesday morning.
NOAA warned that a storm of this magnitude could disrupt, as well as power systems, high-frequency communications systems and navigation systems. Among the potential effects could be intermittent performance of high-frequency radios, which could interfere with some of the world's .
The storm could also compromise satellite and low-frequency radio navigation systems and cause surface changes on satellite components that could increase drag on low-Earth-orbit spacecrafts. Some satellites may also experience orientation problems, and false alarms could be triggered in protection devices built into some of.
A NOAA researcher said the volatile area of the sun has developed rapidly over the last three or four days. Typically, solar activity cycles of varying size occur about every eleven years, said Larry Combs, a forecaster with the NOAA Space Environment Center?s Space Weather Operations. Combs said another, similar area of activity could be increasing in size on the other side of the sun.
According to NOAA, similar eruptions could occur in the nearby regions of the sun over the next two weeks. The so-called sunspot cluster is roughly 10 times larger than Earth. The same area, located near the center of the sun, produced a major flare in October that caused a radio blackout on Earth. NOAA said the region continues to grow, and it reported that additional flare activity is likely.