The Earth took a direct hit from the largest solar storm in five years early Thursday after a massive cloud of charged particles was hurled from the sun.
It has been classified by scientists as an X-class storm, the strongest type of solar flare the sun can produce. It was created by two huge explosions on the surface.
On Tuesday evening, the sun unleashed two huge blasts of plasma about an hour apart, scientists said. They reached Earth after racing through space at nearly four million miles per hour.
While there is no need to panic, NASA scientists say the storms could cause disruptions. Bigger solar storms have hit the earth in recent years, so the effects could be minor.
"Beware. Keep watching. Don't get hysterical," NASA's Lisa Guhathakurta said.
The earth's magnetic field is being shaken and that could disrupt everything from power grids to telephone service and airline flights.
"It's prudent at a time like this to reroute aircraft. We know that GPS and satellites are vulnerable and so they wind up skirting farther south trying to stay away from where the major numbers of particles happens to be," said Dr. Ed Krupp, director of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles.
Potential problems are possible over the next 24 hours. However, the beautiful auroras produced by the solar flares, also known as the Northern Lights, could be visible for a month.
If the solar radiation from the storms reaches the level known as S-4, astronauts working on the International Space Station may need to take appropriate precautions from the heightened radiation levels.