Earth’s close shave with solar storm

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iol scitech march 8 solar storm AP File photo: The bursts from the sun, called coronal mass ejections, carried southward magnetic fields and would have clashed with Earth's northward field.

Washington - The leading edge of a solar storm that had been expected since a massive eruption on the sun on Thursday reached Earth at 1730 GMT Saturday.

The US Space Weather Prediction Centre of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported that a G1, or minor, geomagnetic storm was underway. The storm could reach G2, or moderate, levels over the remainder of the weekend, NOAA said.

Solar storms can affect power grids, mobile phone communication as well as aviation.

The European Space Agency (ESA) told dpa that the storm had so far caused no damage to satellites.

“Such a phenomenon lasts a couple of days and causes massive oscillations in the magnetic field,” said Markus Langraf of the ESA satellite control Centre in Darmstadt, Germany.

Those living in the Northern Hemisphere may be treated to a bravura performance by the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, ESA officials said.

According to space.com, international space agencies had been expecting the sun storm after a massive solar flare - known as a coronal mass ejection - erupted on the sun on Thursday, sending charged solar plasma toward the Earth. - Sapa-dpa

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