After a prolonged quiet period, the sun let off an explosion Wednesday when a new sunspot fired a small solar flare lasting over an hour.
All those particles colliding with Earth's magnetic field could turn up the range and the intensity of the aurora, also known as the northern and southern lights.
Aurora are caused by particles from the sun that are constantly flowing toward our planet, but a CME delivers an extra large helping that can really amp up the display.
One of the most helpful metaphors for understanding the difference between a solar flare and a CME comes from NASA, which uses the example of a firing cannon.
"The flare is like the muzzle flash, which can be seen anywhere in the vicinity.
As solar storms go, this one is relatively mild.
Given our dramatically increased dependence on electromagnetically based communications today, the repeat of such an event could devastate a lot of our infrastructure. »