Solar storm could strike Earth this week

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A solar storm — a disturbance in Earth’s magnetic field caused by changes in solar wind — is forecast to hit Earth this week, the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has warned.  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a G1 (minor) geomagnetic storm watch for Tuesday and Wednesday. The storm watch was issued “due to the arrival of a negative polarity coronal hole high-speed stream,” SWPC explained in a post online Sunday.

C. Alex Young, associate director for science in the heliophysics science division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, wrote in a report published Monday that at least three “substantial” coronal holes — which demonstrate the Sun’s magnetic field is exposed — were observed in the Sun last week.  “These are areas of open magnetic field from which high-speed solar wind rushes out into space,” Young explains. “This wind, if it interacts with [Earth’s] magnetosphere, can cause aurora to appear near the poles.”

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