Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer solstice starts with sizzling solar storm

While powerful, it wasn't as big as other recent coronal mass ejections The sun unleashed a powerful solar flare and eruption Tuesday just in time for the summer solstice: the first day of the summer in Earth's Northern Hemisphere. The solar storm occurred in the early hours of Tuesday and was spotted by the space-based Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, according to the website Spaceweather.com, which monitors space weather and skywatching events. Spaceweather.com officials said a moderate C7-class solar flare kicked off the solar storm and triggered a massive eruption of plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection. "Magnetic fields above sunspot complex 1236 erupted during the early hours of June 21st, hurling a coronal mass ejection (CME) almost directly toward Earth," Spaceweather.com stated in an alert. "The incoming CME does not appear to be particularly potent; nevertheless, the cloud could trigger polar geomagnetic storms when it reaches Earth on or about June 23rd."



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