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Despite Fears, Huge Solar Flare Has Little Apparent Effect on Earth

By Kim Glovas

VILLANOVA, Pa. (CBS) — The biggest solar flare in six years erupted on Tuesday and was heading our way.  However, it appears that Earth has dodged most of the barrage of charged particles shot out by the sun.

Scientists say the effects of the solar flare struck Earth early this morning.  There were fears of disruption of communications satellites and other electronic systems, even major power outages.

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But Edward Guinan, professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Villanova University, says the worst did not happen.

“It already has arrived, and it hasn’t done very much so far,” he said at midday.  “This plasma, these charged particles, hit the Earth’s upper atmosphere, can cause Aurora Borealis — the ‘northern lights’ — and it also can affect satellites.  And that’s where the GPS comes from: communication satellites.”

He says the Earth can protect itself with its magnetic field, which diverts the charges to the poles.

Guinan says that bigger solar flares can be expected next year, which will be the peak of the sun’s normal 11-year sunspot cycle.

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