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'Extreme' class solar flare heading toward Earth, hopefully bringing nothing but auroras

Sarah Silbert
07.13.12
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Yesterday, a solar flare set off from the sun, launching a coronal mass ejection (CME) heading toward Earth, and it's set to make an appearance in our fair skies this Saturday. While the wave of charged particles headed our way is much weaker than the most powerful solar flares (like the X28+ gust from 2003), it ranks in the extreme (X) class, and it's already caused a wave of UV radiation that interfered with radio signals, not to mention an uptake in solar protons swarming around Earth. According to SpaceWeather.com, the flare could cause some geomagnetic storms, which could endanger satellites and astronauts in space in addition to possibly interfering with communication signals. That (relatively minor) risk aside, those of you living up north could be in for a pretty sweet light show, so check the skies for the aurora borealis.

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