Image 1 - Geomagnetic Storm Could Cause Unusual Aurora Activity
September 27, 2011

Geomagnetic Storm Could Cause Unusual Aurora Activity

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NASA said on Monday that a "strong-to-severe" geomagnetic storm has hit Earth and could cause a rise in aurora borealis activity.

The space agency said the sun unleashed an X1.9-category flare on Saturday morning, causing the geomagnetic storm to reach Earth at a Kp index of 9 in some places on Monday morning.

The sun's "Active Region 1302" is the culprit in the incident.  Its bursts of radiation is so intense it could send auroras as far south as Colorado.

A sunspot takes place when strong magnetic fields on the sun reach the surface and cool down.  Larges sunspots can be seen by using telescopes.

The magnetic activity from the sunspot produces solar flares, and the bigger the sunspot, the bigger the flares.

There is a chance the solar activity could also cause a disruption in communication systems in places like northern Canada.

The best place to view auroras if you live in the midwest to northern U.S. or Canada is somewhere away from city lights.


Image 1: Sunspot 1302 has already produced two X-flares (X1.4 on Sept. 22nd and X1.9 on Sept. 24th). Each of the dark cores in this image from SDO is larger than Earth, and the entire active region stretches more than 100,000 km from end to end. The sunspot's magnetic field is currently crackling with sub-X-class flares that could grow into larger eruptions as the sunspot continues to turn toward Earth. Credit: NASA/SDO/HMI

Image 2: Every three hours throughout the day, magnetic observatories around the world measure the largest magnetic change that their instruments recorded during that period. The result is averaged together with those of the other observatories to produce an index (Kp index) that tells scientists how disturbed the Earth's magnetic field is on a 9-point scale. Credit: NOAA


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