Strong solar winds emanating from three massive ‘holes’ on the surface of the sun have begun to bombard Earth, scientists say.
The storm could be strong enough to disrupt satellites, cause power grid fluctuations and spark displays of the auroras.
Fast moving solar winds are created where the star’s magnetic field opens up into space, captured as vast black regions in satellite imagery.
Charged particles have now made their way out into the solar system and begun to hit the atmosphere of our planet.
As a result, the US Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) issued a geomagnetic storm watch.
The gaps in the sun’s atmosphere, known as a coronal hole, were spotted by experts using Nasa’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite, launched on February 11, 2010.
Images from the SDO show dark patches on the sun’s surface, the location from which the solar winds originated.
Three such holes appeared between Tuesday and Friday last week.
In a written statement last week, a spokesman for Nasa said: ‘For much of this week the sun featured three substantial coronal holes.
Coronal holes appear as large dark areas which are identified with arrows in the still image.
‘These are areas of open magnetic field from which high speed solar wind rushes out into space.
‘This wind, if it interacts with Earth’s magnetosphere, can cause aurora to appear near the poles. They are not at all uncommon.’
Space-weather forecasters predict that the G1 magnetic storm, the most minor storm to require a warning, may have a slight impact on systems on and around the planet.
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Source: Daily Mail