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    How This Solar Storm Was Born

    Written by

    Brian Merchant

    Senior Editor

    Image: NASA

    Everyone make it through the massive geomagnetic solar storm alright? Glad to hear it. You probably didn't even notice the coronal mass ejection that bombarded your planet last night, but NASA did.

    Now, many of you might not be familiar with how a solar storm works, either. So I'd like to take a minute, just sit right there, and I'll tell you how billions of of tons of solar particles just collided with the Earth's magnetosphere. 

    Three days ago, NASA explains, "the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection, a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space and can ... affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground."

    It looked like this

    Those solar particles were then hurled through our solar system, bombarding the Earth early Sunday morning. They happened to hit one of NASA's satellites. 

    NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab explained what happened next: "Upon interacting with the giant magnetic bubble surrounding Earth, the magnetosphere, the CME caused a kind of solar storm known as a geomagnetic storm."

    It was only a small storm. The solar bombardment "initially caused a mild storm rated on NOAA’s geomagnetic storm scales as a G2 on a scale from G1 to G5, and subsequently subsided to a G1." In the past, storms like this have caused auroras near the poles but have not disrupted electrical systems on Earth or satellite-based communications and GPS systems. 

    Image: Greg Syberson, via NASA

    It was beautiful. In Finland, the solar particles and riled-up magnetosphere looked like this on the day of the storm:

    So strange and wonderful, the universe. And if looking at coronal mass ejections embarasses you at all, remember that you can always listen to them:

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