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Wave Of Energy Speeding Towards Earth At 600 Miles Per Second, Geomagnetic Storm Expected

Apr 11, 2013 02:49 PM EDT

A mildly powerful solar flare which erupted from the Sun early Thursday is associated with an coronal mass ejection (CME) that is speeding towards the planet at some 600 miles per second, likely to cause a geomagnetic storm when it arrives.

CMEs can affect satellite and radio communications on Earth as well as cause spectacular aurora borealis, or northern lights.

The solar flare that unleashed the CME was an M6.5, some ten times less powerful then the strongest flares, according to a statement by NASA. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation, but Earth's protective atmosphere ensures there is no danger to humans on the ground. Category M flares are the weakest flares that can still cause some space weather effects near Earth.

The flare, which peaked at 3:16 a.m. EST is the strongest that has occurred in 2013; it caused a brief radio blackout.

The CME is inspected to cause a moderate geomagnetic storm that is expected to start April 13, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center.

The center will continually update this page with new information on the geomagnetic storm.

About one month ago, pictures of stunning northern lights were posted online by people in Denali National Park in Alaska, the result of another CME-induced geomagnetic storm.

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