An active sunspot is amping up the sun’s activity, and has already unleashed two strong solar flares that triggered weekendgeomagnetic storms on Earth, NASA officials say.
The M-class solar flares set off two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that erupted from the sun on last Wednesday and Thursday (June 13 and June 14).
The first flare peaked Wednesday at 9:17 a.m. EDT (1317 GMT), and lasted for three hours, NASA scientists said. The resulting CME was hurled into space directly toward Earth, but was not expected to carry serious effects for the planet because it was traveling at a relatively slow speed.
The second solar flare peaked on June 14 at 10:08 a.m. EDT (1408 GMT), and was also considered a long-duration event, agency officials said.
NASA also released a video of the M-class solar flare on June 14 as it was observed by the sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Both CMEs from last week crashed into Earth’s protective magnetic bubble, called the magnetosphere, on Saturday (June 16), sparking geomagnetic storms and intensifying aurora displays on the planet.
Stunning northern lights were seen at lower latitudes than normal over the weekend, in some cases as low as Iowa, Nebraska and Maryland, NASA officials said.
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