This image taken by the sun-watching SOHO observatory. CREDIT: SOHO/NASA/ESA
June 21, 2011 (SPACE.com) -- The sun unleashed a powerful solar flare and eruption Tuesday (June 21) just in time for the summer solstice: the first day of the summer in Earth's Northern Hemisphere.
The solstice solar storm occurred in the early hours of Tuesday and was spotted by the space-based Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, according to the website Spaceweather.com, which monitors space weather and skywatching events.
Spaceweather.com officials said a moderate C7-class solar flare kicked off the solar storm and triggered a massive eruption of plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection. [Amazing Sun Photos From Space]
"Magnetic fields above sunspot complex 1236 erupted during the early hours of June 21st, hurling a coronal mass ejection (CME) almost directly toward Earth," Spaceweather.com stated in an alert. "The incoming CME does not appear to be particularly potent; nevertheless, the cloud could trigger polar geomagnetic storms when it reaches Earth on or about June 23rd."