Biggest solar storm in years now bombarding Earth (+video)
The two huge solar flares that erupted on the sun on Tuesday have produced a wave of charged particles that are now glancing off our planet's magnetic field.
The biggest solar storm in five years is battering our planet right now, and may cause disruptions to satellites, power grids and communications networks over the next 24 hours, space weather experts say.
Two strong solar flares erupted from the surface of the sun late Tuesday (March 6), blasting a wave of plasma and charged particles toward Earth. After speeding through space at 4 million mph, this eruption of material — called a coronal mass ejection (CME) — should be hitting Earth now.
The storm is expected to create strong disruptions due to an odd combination of intense magnetic, radio and radiation emissions, making it the strongest overall solar storm since December 2006, even though the flare that triggered it was not the largest, space weather officials said.
The CME reached Earth this morning at about 5:45 a.m. EST (1045 GMT), according to officials at the Space Weather Prediction Center, which is jointly managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service. While the CME did not hit Earth head-on, the material delivered a glancing blow to the planet, and energetic particles will continue to interact with Earth's magnetic field over the course of the day.