Nature is currently at its theatrical best. After making the upper northern hemisphere shiver and freeze by unleashing a polar vortex, it made the sun send out a massive solar flare towards earth.
An X-class solar flare exploded of the Sun on tuesday. Its collection of plasma has organized into something called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and is headed in the general direction of Earth. This may result in aurora (northern lights) into the northern U.S. and perhaps even a bit farther south Thursday and/or Friday.
The first major solar flare of 2014 erupted from a massive sunspot seven times the size of Earth on Tuesday after a series of mid-level sun storms in recent days. The event occurred as the commercial spaceflight company Orbital Sciences was preparing to launch a landmark cargo delivery flight to the space station Wednesday with its Antares rocket and robotic Cygnus spacecraft.
The solar flare currently poses no threat to the six astronauts and cosmonauts currently living on the International Space Station. The crew will not have to take any measures to shelter themselves from the solar flare’s space radiation, NASA spokesman Rob Navias, of the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, told SPACE.com in an email.
The sun is currently in an active phase of its 11-year solar weather cycle. The current cycle, known as Solar Cycle 24, began in 2008