A powerful solar eruption is expected to blast a stream of charged particles toward Earth Tuesday, Jan. 24, as the strongest radiation storm since 2005 rages on the sun.
Early this morning (0359 GMT Jan. 23, which corresponds to late Sunday, Jan. 22 at 10:59 p.m. EST), NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory caught an extreme ultraviolet flash from a huge eruption on the sun, according to the skywatching website Spaceweather.com.
The solar flare spewed from sunspot 1402, a region of the sun that has become increasingly active lately. Several NASA satellites, including the Solar Dynamics Observatory, the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and the Stereo spacecraft observed the massive sun storm.
A barrage of charged particles triggered by this morning's solar flare is expected to hit Earth tomorrow at around 9 a.m. EST (1400 GMT), according to experts at the Space Weather Prediction Center, a division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [Video & photos of the huge solar flare]
According to NOAA, this is the strongest solar radiation storm since May 2005, and as a precaution, polar flights on Earth are expected to be re-routed within the next few hours, Kathy Sullivan, deputy administrator of NOAA, said today at the 92nd annual American Meteorological Society meeting in New Orleans, La.
Scientists call these electromagnetic bursts "coronal mass ejections" (CMEs), and they are closely studied because they can produce potentially harmful geomagnetic storms when the charged particles rain down Earth's magnetic field lines.
In addition to generating stronger than normal displays of Earth's auroras (also known as the northern and southern lights), geomagnetic storms aimed directly at our planet can also disrupt satellites in orbit, cause widespread communications interference and damage other electronic infrastructures. To read more, click here.
Solar eruption sparks biggest radiation storm in seven years
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