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Strong solar storm hits Earth; may cause brilliant auroras


Image of the Sun released by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (BNS): A massive solar storm -- pegged to be the strongest since September 2005 -- hit the Earth's magnetic field on Tuesday and could disrupt satellite operation and other communication systems, NASA said.

The massive storm, which resulted from Sun's eruption on January 22, sent coronal mass ejection (CME) towards Earth.

The ejection, though categorised as an M8.7 class flare which is not as strong as an X-class flare, caused the biggest solar radiation storm since October 2003, NASA said.

The CME resulted from the solar eruption collided with Earth's magnetic field a little after 10 AM EST (1500 GMT) on Tuesday, the US space agency said, while predicting that it could reach the planet's magnetosphere as early as Wednesday.

The explosion on the Sun also sent fast moving, highly energetic protons towards Earth which caused the strongest solar radiation storm since September 2005, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.

Though the storm does not pose any threat to human beings on Earth, it has the potential to harm orbiting satellites, power grids, radio signal and ever aircraft flights.

The International Space Station crew was reported safe from the massive solar storm on Tuesday.

A fascinating aspect of the storm, however, could be the appearance of spectacular auroras in several parts of the globe. The magical display at the night sky could be visible at higher latitudes such as Michigan and Maine in the US, and perhaps even at lower latitudes as well, NASA said.

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