Impact from solar storm seen small

08:23, August 05, 2010      

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A view of the Sun. Earth is bracing for tons of plasma from a massive solar flare that is expected to create a geomagnetic storm and a spectacular light show - and it could pose a threat to satellites in orbit, as well. Photo: AFP
A solar storm is blazing toward Earth - a phenomenon astronomers said will have little impact on human activities and telecommunication services but will drastically boost chances of aurora light displays for sky watchers in high-altitude regions.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured an eruption on the sun's surface Sunday that hurled tons of plasma directly toward our planet in an event called a coronal mass ejection, which sent a "solar tsunami" racing across 93 million miles of space, the National Geographic News reported.

The hour-long "solar tsunami" on the surface of the sun began Sunday and started reaching Earth early Wednesday, experts said.

The Earth's magnetic field shields people from severe harm by solar radiation.

The last occurance of similar solar activity took place during late October to early November in 2003, but it affected 34 satellites, as it was 10 times more powerful than the current storm.

The storm is expected to spark spectacular auroras in high-latitude areas of the Northern Hemisphere, making it the best time for aurora lovers to enjoy the rare view.

Auroras happen when energized particles from the sun interact with the Earth's magnetic field. The particles flow down the field lines that run toward Earth's poles, banging into atoms of atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen along the way, according to the Nat Geo News.

The charged solar particles give Earth's atmospheric atoms an energy boost, which are then released as light, painting the sky with streaks of mostly green and red.

Usually, auroras are more commonly seen at high latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, such as the Arctic regions of Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia.

But explosions this time may spark geomagnetic storms that bring the show to slightly lower parts of the globe, the Nat Geo News said. These storms can also add a rippling effect to the sometimes static auroras.

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