Solar Stormís Auroras May Dance Above Mid-U.S. This Weekend
A giant solar flare shot out of a sunspot Thursday, hitting Earth with a powerful burst of X-ray and ultraviolet radiation. Solar researchers expect a moderate geomagnetic storm to follow and strike Earth this weekend, causing satellite glitches, power disruptions and colorful auroras possibly as far south as Washington D.C.
At 12:11 p.m. EDT, the flare began unleashing about a billion hydrogen bombsí worth of energy. Radiation temporarily jammed some radio frequencies for about an hour.
Right behind the flare is a belch of solar atmosphere called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, which is now traveling toward Earth at about 3 million mph. The resulting solar storm at Earth, which NASA predicts will be a G2 to G4 (on a scale of one to five), should start Saturday morning and conclude by Sundayís end.
ďItís the biggest of the summer so far,Ē said heliophysicist Alex Young of NASAís Goddard Space Flight Center. ďThis could produce auroras as far south as northern California and Alabama into central UK and Europe or southern New Zealand.Ē