Solar storm could strike Earth Thursday

A solar storm was forecast to hit Earth Thursday after the sun unleashed a powerful solar flare — a burst of high-energy radiation — Sunday night.

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory Satellite captured a solar flare on the sun releasing a coronal mass ejection (CME) around 8:25 p.m. ET Sunday.

“[CMEs] are huge explosions of magnetic field and plasma from the Sun’s corona,” the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) explained in a post online. “When CMEs impact the Earth’s magnetosphere, they are responsible for geomagnetic storms and enhanced aurora.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOA) issued a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm watch for Thursday.

Here’s what you need to know about solar storms — and how they can impact the Earth — before one hits the planet on Thursday.

What is a solar flare?

Magnetic storms on the surface of the sun can cause what is known as “solar flares.”

“A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots,” according to NASA. “Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events.”


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