DETROIT, MI - Material from a Sunday solar eruption hit the Earth on Tuesday, helping to create the planet's strongest solar radiation storm in more than eight years, NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center said.
The eruption also has caused a minor geomagnetic storm, expected to continue at least through Tuesday. Together, the storms could affect GPS systems, other satellite systems and radio communications near the poles, the SWPC and NASA said.
The storms prompted some airlines to divert planes from routes near the north pole, where radio communications may be affected and passengers at high altitudes may be at "a higher than normal radiation risk," the SWPC said.
But solar radiation storms can't harm humans on Earth itself, NASA said.
NASA said the eruption also may spark an unusually large display of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, which may be visible Tuesday night at lower latitudes than normal, perhaps as far south as Michigan or Maine.
Sunday's blast included a solar flare, an intense burst of radiation from the sun, the release of fast-moving radioactive particles, and a coronal mass ejection, which is a release of gas and magnetic fields from the outer sun, NASA said.
Some of the radiation hit earth by Monday, causing a solar radiation storm that the SWPC initially reported as the strongest since January 2005.
But the coronal mass ejection collided with the Earth's magnetic field at 10 a.m. Tuesday, and the "influx of particles from the CME amplified the solar radiation storm," making it the strongest such storm since October 2003, NASA said.
Delta Airlines re-routed transpolar flights Tuesday as a precaution, Delta spokesman Anthony Black said. Four routes from Asia and four from Detroit, Michigan were affected, he said.
CNN's Sean Morris, Jason Hanna and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.
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