London: The Earth could be hit by a "solar
tsunami" anytime now as an unusually complex magnetic eruption
on the Sun has flung a large cloud of electrically charged
particles towards our planet, scientists have warned.
Several satellites, including NASA`s new Solar Dynamics
Observatory (SDO), recorded on Sunday a small solar flare
erupting above sunspot 1092, the size of the Earth.
The satellites also recorded a large filament of cool gas
stretching across the Sun`s northern hemisphere also exploded
The explosion, called a coronal mass ejection, was aimed
directly towards Earth, which then sent a "solar tsunami"
racing 93 million miles across space, the New Scientist
When the violent cloud hits, which could be anytime now,
it could spark aurorae in the skies around the poles and pose
a threat to satellites, although not a severe one, it said.
Despite being separated by hundreds of thousands of
kilometres, the two events may be linked, said astronomers who
studied the images from SDO that hint at a shock wave
travelling from the flare into the filament.
"These are two distinct phenomena but they are obviously
related," said Len Culhane, a solar physicist at the Mullard
Space Science Laboratory, University College London.
Experts said the wave of supercharged gas will likely
reach the Earth on Tuesday, when it will buffet the natural
magnetic shield protecting Earth.
It is likely to spark spectacular displays of the aurora
or northern and southern lights.
"This eruption is directed right at us," said Leon Golub,
of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics.
"It`s the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite
some time," Golub was quoted as saying by the Telegraph.
NASA recently warned that Britain could face widespread
power blackouts and be left without critical communication
signals for long periods of time, after the earth is hit by a
once-in-a-generation "space storm".
Earlier scientists had said that they believed the Earth
would be hit with unprecedented levels of magnetic energy from
solar flares after the Sun wakes "from a deep slumber"
sometime around 2013.
It remains unclear, however, how much damage this latest
eruption will cause the world`s communication tools.
Dr Lucie Green, of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory,
Surrey, who followed the flare-ups using Japan`s orbiting
Hinode telescope, said this was a very rare event.
"Not one, but two almost simultaneous eruptions from
different locations on the Sun were launched toward the Earth.
"These eruptions occur when immense magnetic structures
in the solar atmosphere lose their stability and can no longer
be held down by the Sun`s huge gravitational pull. Just like a
coiled spring suddenly being released, they erupt into space."
"This means we have a very good chance of seeing major
and prolonged effects, such as the northern lights at low