Solar Storm 2013; Will Saturday's Solar Flare Cause Damage When it Hits Earth?

NASA confirmed that a big sunspot unleashed an intense solar flare in the direction of Earth early on Saturday.

The long-lasting solar flare, also known as a coronal mass ejection (CME), produced a violent eruption by the sun that hurled a wave of charged particles at Earth at speeds approaching 1.8 million miles per hour.

A CME is a storm-like colossal burst of solar wind and magnetic fields that rises above the solar corona before being released into space. These eruptions of charged solar material send solar particles flying out into space.

It could take around one to three days for the charged particles to reach Earth, but a NASA statement confirmed that the solar storm posed no danger to satellites or astronauts in space yet is likely to amplify auroras on Earth, according to

"In the past, CMEs at this strength have had little effect," NASA officials explained. "They may cause auroras near the poles but are unlikely to disrupt electrical systems on Earth or interfere with GPS or satellite-based communications systems."

Similar solar flares triggered geomagnetic storms and produced spectacular displays of aurorae in the skies.

Professor Jose Lopez, a physicist at Seton Hall University, told Fox News that the solar flare may actually cause damage when it hits Earth.

"The concern of a strong solar flare in the direction of Earth is legit," Lopez said. "The possibility that such a Sun burst could hit Earth could cause extensive damage as it would charge-up our electrical equipment and destroy them."

This latest solar flare and sun eruption was photographed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a mission operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, according to Yahoo! News.

Saturday's solar flare and sun eruption also caught the attention of astronauts living on the International Space Station, even though the solar weather event will have little impact on their daily routine.

"We live right next to a star," Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, who currently lives on the International Space Station, wrote on Twitter. "Today it ejected a huge blob at 500 mi/sec. But not to worry - should be good aurorae."

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