Severe Solar Storm Hits Earth

The storm may make the northern lights viewable farther south.

A close up of a solar flare on March 11 captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory taken in extreme ultraviolet light.
A close up of a solar flare on March 11 captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory taken in extreme ultraviolet light. –NASA/SDO

A major solar storm hit Earth Tuesday morning, possibly making the northern lights viewable farther south, according to an Associated Press report.

The geomagnetic shock, a level 4 storm on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 1-5 scale, may also affect power grids and GPS tracking – however, no damage has been reported yet, according to the report. The storm reached the Earth about 15 hours earlier than expected – it was only expected to be a level 1 storm, too, according to the AP.

Officials told the AP the northern lights may be viewable as far south as the middle United States, such as Tennessee or Oklahoma, if the effects continue through the evening.

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In light of this severe solar storm, here are some recent photos of our crazy, terrifying sun, courtesy of NASA.

Two coronal holes (those dark patches) form on the sun on March 16. The larger one near the bottom was the largest observed coronal hole in decades. Coronal holes are low density and temperature regions of the sun’s outer atmosphere. —NASA/SDO
An X-class (the highest class) solar flare of 2015 erupted from the sun March 13. —EPA/NASA/SDO
A mid-level solar flare on March 11, along with Earth pictured for scale. —NASA/SDO

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