SPACE-US-WEATHER-20120307-190631

This handout image provided by NASA on March 7, 2012, shows a color-coded image combines observations made by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory in several extreme ultraviolet wavelengths, highlighting a bright X-class flare toward the upper left of the sun’s disk on March 6. This flare was categorized as an X5.4, making it the second largest flare — after an X6.9 on August 9, 2011. A pair of steamy explosions on the Sun’s surface in recent days is sparking the biggest radiation and geomagnetic storm the Earth has experienced in five years, space weather experts said March 7. The full brunt of the storm is expected to hit Earth early Thursday US time and last through Friday, potentially disrupting power grids, GPS systems, satellites, and forcing airplanes to change their routes around the polar regions. = RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – MANDATORY CREDIT «AFP PHOTO / NASA» – NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS – DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS = (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)

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