According to NASA, the sun's Jan. 7, 2014, X-class flare was also associated with a coronal mass ejection or CME. CMEs are another solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later. These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground and make for some nice aurora.
Aurora forecasters at the Geophysical Institute are predicting high auroral activity on January 9 and 10. In Alaska, highly active auroral displays will be visible overhead from Barrow to Bethel, Dillingham and Ketchikan, and visible low on the horizon from King Salmon, weather permitting.
Find out more aurora details and access the GI's aurora forecast at http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/.
PHOTO CAPTION/CREDIT: This pictures combines two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured on Jan. 7, 2014. Together, the images show the location of a giant sunspot group on the sun, and the position of an X-class flare that erupted at 1:32 p.m. EST. NASA/SDO image.