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A Solar proton event occurs when protons emitted by the Sun become accelerated to very high energies either close to the Sun during a solar flare or in interplanetary space by the shocks associated with coronal mass ejections. These high energy protons cause several effects. They can penetrate the Earth's magnetic field and cause ionization in the ionosphere. The effect is similar to auroral events, the difference being that electrons and not protons are involved. Energetic solar protons are also a significant radiation hazard to spacecraft and astronauts.
Regions where deeper penetration can occur includes the north pole, south pole, and South Atlantic magnetic anomaly.