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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Major solar storm headed to Earth

The strongest geomagnetic storm in more than six years was forecast to hit Earth's magnetic field Jan. 24, and it could affect airline routes, power grids and satellites, the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center said.


The strongest geomagnetic storm in more than six years was forecast to hit Earth's magnetic field on Tuesday, and it could affect airline routes, power grids and satellites.A coronal mass ejection - a big chunk of the Sun's atmosphere - was hurled toward Earth on Sunday, driving energized solar particles at about 5 million miles an hour (2,000 km per second), about five times faster than solar particles normally travel, the center's Terry Onsager said."When it hits us, it's like a big battering ram that pushes into Earth's magnetic field," Onsager said from Boulder, Colorado. "That energy causes Earth's magnetic field to fluctuate."

 
The Solar Dynamics Observatory captures an M8.7 class flare in a handout photo released by NASA January 23, 2012.
REUTERS/NASA/SDO/AIA/Handout


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