This closeup still of the January 22, 2012, M8.7 class solar flare was taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in 304 angstrom. An earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) accompanied the flare. Credit: NASA/SDO
The coronal mass ejection CME collided with Earth's magnetic field a little after 10 AM ET on January 24, 2012. The influx of particles from the CME amplified the solar radiation storm such that it is now considered the largest since October 2003. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has categorized it as a "strong" -- or S3 (with S5 being the highest) – storm. Solar radiation storms can affect satellite operations and short wave radio propagation, but cannot harm humans on Earth. Auroras may well be visible tonight at higher latitudes such as Michigan and Maine in the U.S., and perhaps even lower.
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