“HERE WE GO again,” said Joe Kunches, lead forecaster at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Environment Center.

Meanwhile, the most powerful solar storm in decades, which first struck Wednesday, continued to buffet Earth on Thursday. The back-to-back pairing of two historically huge flares was unprecedented, one physicist said.

The two storms may have joined forces…

The two storms may have joined forces as the second one caught up with the first. Scientists don’t yet know how this might play out.


Kunches said Earth’s protective magnetic field might be worn down by the first upheaval and could be more vulnerable to this second attack, even though the storm itself appears to be less powerful.

Either way, Round 2 is a mean magnetic machine, a potentially damaging cloud of charged particles that is among the 20 worst in recorded history.

Like the first, the second storm moved from the sun to Earth in about 19 hours — amazingly swift, compared to the typical interval of two days. Kunches said the second one may have moved quickly in part because interplanetary space was cleared out by the first salvo, creating less drag. The science behind that possible scenario is not well understood, he said.

The effects of the second storm remain…

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