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A storm of charged particles from the Sun is currently battering Earth, and may disrupt plane routes, satellite navigation and power grids.

The storm, triggered by a pair of solar flares earlier this week, is the largest of its kind for five years and will bombard the Earth's magnetic field throughout today.

As a result, the Northern Lights may be visible at lower latitudes.

The British Geological Survey says for those in the UK, tonight is the best time to see the lights.

The Sun's activity rises and falls through an 11-year cycle, and has in recent months been seen to launch even more of the solar flares causing the current storm. The cycle is due to peak in 2013.

The flares have resulted in what is known as a coronal mass ejection, "the technical term for what is really just a big ball of gas travelling at 2,000 kilometres per second", according to Doug Biesiecker from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa).


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Flights could be halted as huge solar storm hits earth today
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