Sun Storms May Affect Radios, Cell Phones

PHOTO: In this handout from NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory, a solar large flare erupts off the sun in space, June 7, 2011.
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Intense solar activity may affect Earth today, potentially disrupting radio and cell phone transmissions.

On Monday, the sun released a coronal mass ejection (CME), which is a "massive eruption of solar plasma," according to Space.com. The blast is expected to affect the Earth through Saturday.

"Coronal Mass Ejections from the last few days may cause isolated periods of G1 (Minor) Geomagnetic Storm Activity on December 28-29," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center wrote in an update. "R1 (Minor) radio blackouts are expected until 31 December."

If the storms are powerful enough, they could temporarily interrupt radio frequencies, GPS signals and cell phone communication, and possibly affect power grids, according to Space.com.

NOAA estimated that there was a 20-40 percent chance of these disruptive polar geomagnetic storms on Dec. 28-29 in response to the impact of one or more CMEs.

Another potential result of these storms is impressive auroral displays, also known as northern lights. Skywatchers at higher latitudes, closer to Earth's poles, are being alerted to the storms and urged to keep an eye out for auroras.

Experts say the sun's increased activity is part of an 11-year cyclical pattern.

The sun had a low rate of activity between 2005 and 2010, but has had several eruptions, powerful flares and CMEs this year.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory tweeted on Wednesday that two CMEs occurred within 24 hours earlier this week.

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