Page last updated at 08:54 GMT, Sunday, 30 August 2009 09:54 UK

Solar flares could 'damage' Earth

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Space scientist Dr Maggie Adairin-Pocock explains how powerful explosions on the Sun's surface could cause widespread damage to communications systems on Earth.

The last time this happened on a large scale was 150 years ago when the Great Solar Flare - as it was known - took out the telegraph system.

It was described as a one-in-500-year event

Dr Adairin-Pocock says the Sun goes through a number of different cycles, including the familiar 11-year cycle.

She says that in 1989, a solar flare managed to "take out" power stations in Quebec and since technology has advanced at a rapid rate, the communications system would be more at risk now.

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