Sun emits a solstice CME
On June 20, 2013, at 11:24 p.m., the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a 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. Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory and ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory show that the CME left the sun at speeds of around 1350 miles per second, which is a fast speed for CMEs.
Earth-directed CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they funnel energy into Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. The CME's magnetic fields peel back the outermost layers of Earth's fields changing their very shape. Magnetic storms can degrade communication signals and cause unexpected electrical surges in power grids. They also can cause aurora. Storms are rare during solar minimum, but as the sun's activity ramps up every 11 years toward solar maximum -- currently expected in late 2013 -- large storms occur several times per year.
In the past, geomagnetic storms caused by CMEs of this strength and direction have usually been mild.
In addition, the CME may pass by additional spacecraft: Messenger, STEREO B, Spitzer, and their mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from the solar material.
Source: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Latest Science NewsletterGet the latest and most popular science news articles of the week in your Inbox! It's free!
Learn more about
Check out our next project, Biology.Net
From other science news sites
Popular science news articles
- Keep a lid on it: Utah State University geologists probe geological carbon storage
- Patients with low risk prostate cancer on active surveillance experience good quality of life
- Switch from observation only to active treatment by prostate cancer patients varies by race/ethnicity
- Evolution drives how fast plants could migrate with climate change: UBC study
- Tuned gels reveal molecules that drive stem cell differentiation
- New probe developed for improved high resolution measurement of brain temperature
- Here's why run-down schools trigger low test scores
- UTMB researchers find first direct evidence that A. aegypti mosquito transmits Zika virus
- Does social status affect generosity?
- Large protein nanocages could improve drug design and delivery