Giant Sun Flare Continues to Affect Earth

 @IBTScience
on September 27 2011 10:37 AM

A gigantic solar flare that erupted Saturday just won't quit and is forecasted to continue to dazzle sky watchers in Asia and Europe with aurora light shows Tuesday evening.

The sun flare, named AR1302, was 62,000 miles, several times larger than the Earth, and produced electromagnetic storms that caused ghostly light shows across the Northern Hemisphere. The storms also have the possibility of disrupting communications systems.

Officials with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center out of Boulder, Colo. called the event, the geomagnetic storm that just won't go away, on their Facebook page on Tuesday.

So far, blasts from the sunspots haven't been threatening to life on Earth.

None of the blasts have been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead, says NASA. AR1302 is growing and shows no immediate signs of quieting down.

The storm persisted at low levels throughout Monday night EST. The researchers concluded that a high speed solar wind was the push behind the sun flare, which maintained the low level geomagnetic storm.

Region 1302 remains capable of producing more activity and will be in a favorable position for that activity to have impacts on Earth for the next 3-5 days, SWPC officials posted in a space weather bulletin Monday.

For the past four years, the Earth hasn't encountered solar flares until this spring. Solar flares produced powerful blasts on Feb. 15 and March 9.

This continues the recent trend of increasing solar activity associated with our sun's regular 11-year cycle, and confirms that Solar Cycle 24 is indeed heating up, as solar experts have expected, according to NASA officials. Solar activity will continue to increase as the solar cycle progresses toward solar maximum, expected in the 2013 time frame.

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