Powerful Solar Storm Triggered Weaker than Expected Disruptions

As scientists say powerful solar storm that slammed into Earth on March 8 triggered weaker

than expected disruptions, but may still have a few more tricks up its sleeve. Two huge X-class solar flares that are the most powerful type of sun storm erupted from the sun late on March 6, hurling a wave of plasma and energetic particles toward Earth. This blast, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), reached Earth at around 5:45 a.m. EST (1045 GMT) on March 8, according to officials at the Space Weather Prediction Center, which is jointly managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service. Early forecasts showed that the oncoming CME could boost solar radiation in space and trigger geomagnetic storms on Earth, potentially disrupting satellites, power grids and other electronic infrastructure. So far today, no major disturbances have been reported, but several space probes likely experienced high doses of radiation from the onslaught of charged particles. A European spacecraft in orbit around Venus, for example, was temporarily blinded by high radiation. And while it hasn’t packed much of a punch so far, this ongoing solar storm is the largest one scientists have seen in more than five years. According to W. Jeffrey Hughes, director of the Center for Integrated Space Weather Modeling at Boston University the solar storm currently underway is the largest so far during this solar cycle that began about two years ago and is expected to peak 12-15 months from now.

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