Two energy blasts from the sun are causing "tsunamis in space."
A blast has hit the Earth's magnetic field and can disrupt electrical grids and satellite communications systems, said scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Friday.
Joseph Kunches, a space weather scientist with NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said it is too early to know what the effects of the blasts will be.
Three solar flares erupted on the sun beginning on Tuesday, and the most powerful electromagnetic shocks were being felt Friday by the ACE spacecraft. The ACE spacecraft measures radiation bursts several minutes before they hit the Earth. Real-time data from ACE is used by the Space Weather Prediction Center to improve forecasts and warnings of solar storms.
Huge disruptions like this from solar activity happen seldom. Previous disruptions have had severe impacts.
In 1989, a solar storm affected the power grid in Quebec, Canada, leaving roughly six million people without electricity for many hours.
A storm of similar magnitude today could cause up to $2 trillion in damage globally, according to a 2008 report by the National Research Council.
NOAA has informed U.S. electric-grid and satellite-communication operators of the events, which can hinder with some communications, mainly those which are closest to the South and North Poles, Mr. Kunches said.
Tom Bogdan, director of the center, said over the next three to five years scientists anticipate a number of these blasts will become more frequent.
The most visible impacts for the person are the shining auroras around the north and south poles, and the researchers said those could be visible this weekend.
He said the next climax, called a solar maximum, was expected in 2013.