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Tuesday, 2 May, 2000, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Solar eruption may flood Earth
Soho
Image: Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho)
An outburst of superhot gas from the Sun may be travelling towards Earth, with an expected arrival time of about 2300 BST (2200 GMT) on Tuesday.

The eruption, called a Coronal Mass Ejection, was spotted on Sunday by a spacecraft, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (Soho).

The burst of gas will enhance the solar wind, currently running at 685 kilometres per second, and produce a shock wave which could wash over the Earth.


Aurora AP
Increased solar winds mean bright aurorae
If this occurs, then spectacular aurorae will be seen at higher latitudes.

The direction of CME is uncertain because the specific shape observed could be caused not just by an Earth-directed outburst, but also by the superposition of two or more smaller events, directed away from Earth.

The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast a 40% chance of some geomagnetic storm activity over Tuesday and Wednesday, with the chance at mid-latitudes being 30%.

Severe geomagnetic storm activity can affect power supplies on Earth and satellites in orbit.

The Sun's activity waxes and wanes over an 11-year cycle and this year the activity reaches its maximum.

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See also:

07 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Skywatchers marvel at light show
25 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Satellite tracks magnetic storms
09 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Scientists 'look through' the Sun
19 Feb 00 | Sci/Tech
Here comes the Sun
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