Solar radiation from a massive sun storm – the largest in nearly a decade – collided with the Earth’s atmosphere on Tuesday, prompting an airline to reroute flights and skywatchers to seek out spectacular light displays.
US carrier Delta Air Lines said it had adjusted flight routes for transpolar journeys between Asia and the United States to avoid problems caused by the radiation storm, a spokesman said.
NASA confirmed the coronal mass ejection (CME) began colliding with Earth’s magnetic field around 10:00 AM (1500 GMT) Tuesday, adding that the storm was now being considered the largest since October 2003.
Radiation storms are not harmful to humans, on Earth at least, according to the US space agency. They can, however, affect satellite operations and short wave radio.
The storm’s radiation, likely to continue bombarding Earth’s atmosphere through Wednesday, and its possible disruption to satellite communications in the polar regions prompted the flight rerouting, airline officials said.