SUNSPOT, N.M. (AP) -- Scientists say they have made the unprecedented discovery of solar flares erupting almost simultaneously on opposite sides of the sun.
The flares -- massive eruptions of hydrogen from the sun's surface -- were observed by researchers at the National Solar Observatory in southern New Mexico on the morning of Oct. 31.
Simultaneous solar flares have been seen in the past, but never so far apart. Scientists at the observatory are trying to determine whether the eruptions were linked or a coincidence, said solar physicist Don Neidig.
Experts said the discovery could have far-reaching consequences if more cases are observed.
"Now we have only one example of two flares that go off simultaneously that far apart, so it could be an accident. If we see more of these ... then it becomes extremely important," said Stephen Greggor, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of New Mexico.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.