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Solar 'Tsunami' Rushes Toward Earth August 6, 2010
Part of the sudden eruption of chaotic activity on the sun that startled scientists on August 1.
Nearly the entire Earth-facing side of the sun became involved in a complex and violent string of events on Aug. 1, sending bursts of charged particles rushing toward Earth.

The surprising upheaval shook the sun’s atmosphere as a huge solar flare accompanied by other dramatic events.

Scientists say they are puzzled by why so many things happened in different areas of the sun almost at once, especially considering how unusually quiet Earth’s star has been for more than two years.

Two bursts of plasma (coronal mass ejection) sent out by the upheaval caused displays of the aurora borealis and aurora australis when they reached Earth’s magnetic field.

When a coronal mass ejection reaches Earth, it interacts with our planet's magnetic field, potentially creating a geomagnetic storm.

Such storms create the northern and southern lights, and can bring down power grids and affect high-frequency communications. They have also been known to interfere with electronic circuits.

Time Lapse: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory