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Solar storm rising,...

WASHINGTON: A huge solar storm, the second major flare to erupt from the Sun in less than a week, has triggered a coronal mass ejection which is expected to reach the Earth on Saturday, scientists have claimed. The powerful flare unleashed on Thursday sent a wave of plasma toward Earth at a speed of about 1,400 km per second and it's expected to reach the planet by 5.00GMT (10.20 India time) on Saturday. While it may spark a minor geomagnetic storm, power stations, satellites and astronauts need not worry, the scientists said. "It erupted from Active Region 1520, which rotated into view on July 6," Nasa officials said in an alert. Active Region 1520 (AR1520) is a giant sunspot facing towards Earth. According to Nasa and the Space Weather Prediction Center (SPWC) the sun storm registered as an X1.4-class solar flare which is more powerful than the X1.1 flare that erupted on July 6 from another giant sunspot known as AR1515, making this the strongest solar storm of the summer so far. The sunspot region AR1520 could be up to 300,000 km long at its peak. It is about 50% larger than last week's sunspot AR1515, solar astrophysicist Alex Young of Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Centre said. "It's quite extensive," Young said, adding that sunspots the size of AR1520 are normal as the sun nears its peak of its weather cycle in 2013. But while sunspot AR1520 may sound like a solar behemoth, it's actually a modest sunspot, which promises more sun storms to come, Dean Pesnell at Nasa said.

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