Sun Eruption May Supercharge Northern Lights Friday - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Sun Eruption May Supercharge Northern Lights Friday

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - A recent solar blast may ramp up northern lights displays this Friday, giving well-placed skywatchers a treat, NASA officials say.

The sun unleashed a huge cloud of superheated plasma Tuesday morning (March 12) in a solar eruption known as a coronal mass ejection (CME). This cloud is not headed straight for Earth, but it could deliver a glancing blow to our planet on Friday (March 15), researchers said.

"There is now a 65% chance of geomagnetic activity on March 15 due to this event," officials wrote Wednesday (March 13) on the Facebook page of NASA's sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft. "High latitude watchers — [get] ready for possible Aurorae."

The eruption originated from a sunspot known as Active Region 1690, which at the time was centered on the Earth-facing side of the sun, they added. NASA also released a video of the solar eruption as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Powerful CMEs that hit Earth directly can wreak havoc on our planet, triggering geomagnetic storms that can disrupt radio communications, GPS signals and power grids for days at a time. But Tuesday's eruption is not expected to affect Earth beyond possibly sparking some souped-up aurora displays.

The auroras, which are also known as the northern and southern lights, result when charged particles from the sun collide with molecules high in Earth's atmosphere, generating a glow. The phenomenon is usually restricted to high latitutes because Earth's magnetic field lines tend to funnel these particles over the planet's poles.

Tuesday's eruption notwithstanding, the sun has been pretty quiet recently. That's something of a surprise, because many scientists had predicted that the sun's current 11-year activity cycle — known as Solar Cycle 24 — would peak in 2013.

The lull has spurred some researchers to postulate that Solar Cycle 24 may actually have a double peak — one occurring in 2011, which saw many powerful sun storms, and another coming soon after the sun rouses from its mini-slumber.

HD DOPPLER 6i
/
  • National NewsMore>>

  • Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th

    Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th

    Saturday, August 19 2017 2:00 AM EDT2017-08-19 06:00:13 GMT
    Mad Minute for 12/30/16Mad Minute for 12/30/16

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th.

    More >>

    Here are the extended versions of the KHQ Local News 11 at 11 Mad Minute stories from Friday, August 18th.

    More >>
  • The Latest: Florida authorities say 2 police officers shot

    The Latest: Florida authorities say 2 police officers shot

    Saturday, August 19 2017 12:39 AM EDT2017-08-19 04:39:16 GMT

     KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on police officers shot in Florida (all times local): 12:30 a.m. Authorities in northern Florida say two police officers have been shot in Jacksonsville. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said on its official Twitter site that two police officers were shot in the west side of the city. The Sheriff's Office later tweeted: "Two police officers shot: If you are inclined to do so, say a prayer for our two #JSO officers that have been 

    More >>

     KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) - The Latest on police officers shot in Florida (all times local): 12:30 a.m. Authorities in northern Florida say two police officers have been shot in Jacksonsville. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office said on its official Twitter site that two police officers were shot in the west side of the city. The Sheriff's Office later tweeted: "Two police officers shot: If you are inclined to do so, say a prayer for our two #JSO officers that have been 

    More >>
  • Details of 'Deadpool 2' stuntwoman's death released

    Details of 'Deadpool 2' stuntwoman's death released

    Friday, August 18 2017 8:02 PM EDT2017-08-19 00:02:55 GMT

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - British Columbia's workplace safety agency has released the first official account of a "Deadpool 2" stuntwoman's death. The initial report by WorkSafeBC on Friday confirms witness accounts to Monday's accident during filming of the sequel to actor Ryan Reynolds' popular superhero movie. The report says SJ Harris had been rehearsing a stunt that involved driving a motorcycle out the open 

    More >>

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - British Columbia's workplace safety agency has released the first official account of a "Deadpool 2" stuntwoman's death. The initial report by WorkSafeBC on Friday confirms witness accounts to Monday's accident during filming of the sequel to actor Ryan Reynolds' popular superhero movie. The report says SJ Harris had been rehearsing a stunt that involved driving a motorcycle out the open 

    More >>
  • Top Stories from KHQHomeMore>>

  • Washington State University hosts anti-racism rally

    Washington State University hosts anti-racism rally

    Saturday, August 19 2017 9:21 PM EDT2017-08-20 01:21:25 GMT

    PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University hosted a rally against racism Saturday on their campus in Pullman. It was one of several rallies across the nation held over the weekend in response to violent clashes between white nationalists groups and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. One person died in those protests after a car slammed into a crowd of demonstrators.

    More >>

    PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University hosted a rally against racism Saturday on their campus in Pullman. It was one of several rallies across the nation held over the weekend in response to violent clashes between white nationalists groups and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend. One person died in those protests after a car slammed into a crowd of demonstrators.

    More >>
  • Local Craigslist ad offers 'free Cadillac with purchase' of $2,500 eclipse glasses

    Local Craigslist ad offers 'free Cadillac with purchase' of $2,500 eclipse glasses

    Saturday, August 19 2017 8:58 PM EDT2017-08-20 00:58:37 GMT

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - As you may have heard, eclipse glasses are getting harder and harder to come by. As we get closer and closer to Monday's total solar eclipse, demand for solar eclipse glasses has skyrocketed in stores and online. Most stores we've contacted have reported being sold out of the eclipse glasses, so your best bet now is to grab a pair at a local viewing party.

    More >>

    COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho - As you may have heard, eclipse glasses are getting harder and harder to come by. As we get closer and closer to Monday's total solar eclipse, demand for solar eclipse glasses has skyrocketed in stores and online. Most stores we've contacted have reported being sold out of the eclipse glasses, so your best bet now is to grab a pair at a local viewing party.

    More >>
  • 2 dead in small plane crash near Oregon eclipse viewing site

    2 dead in small plane crash near Oregon eclipse viewing site

    Saturday, August 19 2017 8:49 PM EDT2017-08-20 00:49:06 GMT

    MADRAS, Ore. (AP) - Authorities say two people died in a small plane crash near a central Oregon airport where people are gathering to view the solar eclipse. The Central Oregon Emergency Information Network says the pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash about 2 p.m. Saturday about a mile south of Madras Municipal Airport.

    More >>

    MADRAS, Ore. (AP) - Authorities say two people died in a small plane crash near a central Oregon airport where people are gathering to view the solar eclipse. The Central Oregon Emergency Information Network says the pilot and a passenger were killed in the crash about 2 p.m. Saturday about a mile south of Madras Municipal Airport.

    More >>