Solar storm warning as Sun 'lashes' Earth's magnetic field TODAY
A STREAM of solar wind hit Earth's magnetic field today and astronomers are keeping an eye on it in case it sparks a geomagnetic storm.
Space weather experts initially predicted that a solar storm would hit us later in the week but the Sun's outburst has arrived early.
According to the astronomers behind SpaceWeather.com, a fast moving stream of solar wind reached our planet earlier today.
They said: "A stream of fast-moving (~500 km/s) solar wind hit Earth's magnetic field during the early hours of Dec. 15th.
"The gaseous material is flowing from a southern hole in the sun's atmosphere.
"So far the action of the solar wind has not been sufficient to produce a geomagnetic storm; nevertheless, Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras."
Space weather forecasters have been keeping an eye on the solar wind as it looked set to cause a storm.
Geomagnetic storms can upset satellite communications and even shut down our power grids on Earth.
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The storm was predicted after scientists spotted a giant hole in the Sun's southern hemisphere.
This indicated that a fast moving stream of charged solar particles had been ejected into space.
Solar winds can reach speeds of up to one and two million miles per hour.
Luckily, the solar winds that have reached our planet so far seem mild and may not cause disruption.
They should just cause pretty auroras in the sky like the Northern Lights.
Solar storms are often caused by a type of solar flare called a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a huge expulsion of plasma from the Sun's outer layer, called the corona.
As well as causing issues for our tech on Earth, they can be deadly for an astronaut if they result in injury or interfere with mission control communications.
They can also confuse migratory animals.
The Earth's magnetic field helps to protect us from the more extreme consequences of solar flares.
The Sun is currently at the start of a new 11 year solar cycle, which usually sees eruptions and flares grow more intense and extreme.
These events are expected to peak around 2025 and it's hoped that Nasa's Solar Orbiter will observe them all.
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