NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center -- the nation's official source of warnings and alerts about space weather and its impacts on Earth -- issued a warning for a strong, G3 geomagnetic storm on Earth resulting from a significant explosion from the sun's corona Saturday morning (Sept. 24, 2011). G-scale solar storms range from G1 (minor) to G5 (extreme).
Impacts have arrived on Earth, jolting the planet's magnetic field and triggering strong "geomagnetic storming" in some regions. Saturday's coronal mass ejection -- a burst of charged particles and magnetic field that streamed out from the sun at about five million miles an hour -- delivered a glancing blow to the planet. If it had been directed straight at Earth, the geomagnetic storming could have reached "severe" to "extreme" levels.
Geomagnetic storms on Earth can impede the operation of electrical grids and temporarily damage radio and satellite telecommunications. No impacts to the power grid, satellite or other technological systems have yet been reported yet from today's geomagnetic storm, which could persist for several more hours.
The spot on the sun that produced Saturday's coronal mass ejection remains active and is well positioned to deliver more storm activity in the next several days. NOAA's SWPC will continue to watch the active region for activity, and will continue to inform its customers -- grid operators, satellite operators, airlines and more -- about what to expect, so they can protect infrastructure and the public. Space weather can also trigger spectacular aurora (northern and southern lights). Tonight, viewers in Northern Asia and Europe have a chance of seeing aurora.
Materials provided by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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