The sun is bombarding Earth with radiation from the biggest solar storm in more than six years with more to come from the fast-moving eruption.
The solar flare occurred at about 11 p.m. EST (0400 GMT) Sunday and will hit Earth with three different effects at three different times. The biggest issue is radiation, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrationís Space Weather Prediction Center in Colorado.
The radiation is mostly a concern for satellite disruptions and astronauts in space. It can cause communication problems for polar-travelling airplanes, said space weather centre physicist Doug Biesecker.
Radiation from Sundayís flare arrived at Earth an hour later and will likely continue through Wednesday. Levels are considered strong but other storms have been more severe. There are two higher levels of radiation on NOAAís storm scale -- severe and extreme -- Biesecker said. Still, this storm is the strongest for radiation since May 2005.
This handout image provided by NASA, taken Sunday night, Jan. 22, 2012, shows a solar flare erupting on the Sunís northeastern hemisphere. NASA
The radiation -- in the form of protons -- came flying out of the sun at 93 million miles per hour. (150 million kph)
"The whole volume of space between here and Jupiter is just filled with protons and you just donít get rid of them like that," Biesecker said. Thatís why the effects will stick around for a couple days.
NASAís flight surgeons and solar experts examined the solar flareís expected effects and decided that the six astronauts on the International Space Station do not have to do anything to protect themselves from the radiation, spokesman Rob Navias said.
A solar eruption is followed by a one-two-three punch, said Antti Pulkkinen, a physicist at NASAís Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and Catholic University.
First comes electromagnetic radiation, followed by radiation in the form of protons.
Then, finally the coronal mass ejection -- thatís the plasma from the sun itself -- hits. Usually that travels at about 1 or 2 million miles per hour, (1.6 or 3.2 million kph) but this storm is particularly speedy and is shooting out at 4 million miles per hour, Biesecker said.
Itís the plasma that causes much of the noticeable problems on Earth, such as electrical grid outages. In 1989, a solar storm caused a massive blackout in Quebec. It can also pull the northern lights farther south.
But this coronal mass ejection seems likely to be only moderate, with a chance for becoming strong, Biesecker said. The worst of the storm is likely to go north of Earth.
And unlike last October, when a freak solar storm caused auroras to be seen as far south as could see an aurora but not until Tuesday evening, he said.
For the past several years the sun had been quiet, almost too quiet. Part of that was the normal calm part of the sunís 11-year cycle of activity. Last year, scientists started to speculate that the sun was going into an unusually quiet cycle that seems to happen maybe once a century or so.
Now that super-quiet cycle does not seem as likely, Biesecker said.
Scientists watching the sun with a new NASA satellite launched in 2010 -- during the sunís quiet period -- are excited.
"We havenít had anything like this for a number of years," Pulkkinen said. "Itís kind of special."
"Report from NOAA/NWS Space Weather Prediction Center : "The strongest Solar Radiation Storm since September, 2005 is in progress and continues to get stronger and a very fast Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is headed towards Earth."
Gunman Storms Dutch TV Station Demanding Airtime 2015-01-30 23:32
Dutch authorities have released few details about the bizarre case of 19-year-old Tarik Zahzahís attack on the main news studio of television station NOS on Thursday. To get the obvious question out of the way first, the police say there is no evidence that Zahzah, who is half-Egyptian, acted on behalf of organized terrorism.
The authorities always say that on the ...
How Alan Dershowitz bullied rape victims to protect a serial child molester 2015-01-30 23:40 Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz always felt children were fair game for Israeli missiles. Now the question is whether he thinks they are fair game for the sexual exploits of his powerful associates and himself.
Dershowitz and the UKís Prince Andrew were accused in a recent court filing of raping a teenage girl who was forced into sexual slavery by ...
Alchemical Banksters 2015-01-30 22:39
This past week, the world's preeminent vultures, the economic power elite, met in Davos to discuss the maintenance of their global fiat hegemony. Highlights included furthering austerity, noting that the serf class can't have air conditioning and cars, as well as cheering on the death of privacy through the rise of technocracy. The degenerate elite, completely out of touch with ...
Men must prove a woman said íYesí under tough new rape rules 2015-01-30 4:54
New guidance will be issued to all police forces and prosecutors as part of a ítoolkití to move rape investigations into the 21st century
Men accused of date rape will need to convince police that a woman consented to sex as part of a major change in the way sex offences are investigated.
The Director of Public Prosecutions said it was ...
4 beheaded in Saudi Arabia less than a week into King Salman's rule 2015-01-30 3:13 Comment: So when will the the "Human rights" promoting liberal west elite decide invade Saudi Arabia like they did Libya?
Members of Magic Movement stage a mock execution scene in protest of Saudi Arabia beheading of eight Bangladeshi workers in October 2011.
Four people have been executed in Saudi Arabia less than a week after 79-year-old King Salman assumed power following the ...