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Solar storm to hit Earth on Friday the 13th

Coronal mass ejections can seriously disrupt communication systems and even knock out power grids on Earth.

By Brooks Hays
Solar storm to hit Earth on Friday the 13th
A long-lasting solar flare erupted from the sun triggering an intense sun eruption aimed squarely at earth on February 9, 2012. The solar storm should not endanger satellites or astronauts in apace according to NASA. The sun eruption was captured in photos by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), a joint mission by NASA and the European Space Agency. UPI/ESA/NASA/SOHO | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 12 (UPI) -- Several large solar flares have erupted from the surface of the sun this week, and now the radiation is swirling its way toward Earth.

Scientists expect the solar storm to hit the Earth's atmosphere on Friday the 13th -- which means the superstitious date will feature both a full moon and a minor cosmic disturbance.

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Some of the waves of radiation already collided with Earth earlier this week in the immediate aftermath of the flares. In each case, radio communication was knocked out for about an hour on the side of the Earth facing the sun.

All three of the solar flares that erupted this week were caught on camera by NASA. All three were X-class, the largest variety, and one of them featured a coronal mass ejection, according to the NOAA.

A CME occurs when plasma and intensely charged particles leap from the surface of the sun into space, forming a cloud and creating a particularly violent solar storm. Coronal mass ejections can seriously disrupt communication systems and even knock out power grids on Earth.

But the CME-based solar storm expected to hit Friday is predicted to be minor -- currently categorized as a G1, the puniest kind -- and may not cause any problems with communication systems.

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The cosmic energy that makes up these solar storms that occasionally graze Earth's atmosphere -- sometimes causing problems, most times not -- is the same cosmic energy that causes visually stunning auroras, like the Northern Lights.

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