Solar eruption could produce beautiful auroras

A solar eruption on Wednesday sent plasma hurling through space. The eruption of the solar filament on the sun's surface was captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. The coronal mass ejection, or CME, which followed was then tracked by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.

Scientists concluded the eruption is not headed directly toward earth but could produce beautiful auroras on Saturday. These natural light displays are seen in the high latitudes.

Some scientists refer to coronal mass ejections as hurricanes of space. They cause the shield that protects us from solar wind to break down. Understanding and predicting these events could help prevent major destruction to things like spacecraft, astronauts, satellites in orbit and communications and power systems on earth. In 1997, a solar storm destroyed a $200 million AT&T communications satellite.

Not only do these solar storms create costly damage, they threaten many things we rely on for communication, such as cell phones, pagers and global positioning systems used for airline navigation.

The sun passed the peak period in its activity cycle last year.


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