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Waspie_Dwarf

Sun Shoots Out 2 Coronal Mass Ejections

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Sun Shoots Out 2 Coronal Mass Ejections

On Jan. 23, 2013, at 9:55 a.m. EST, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection, or CME. Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and ESA/NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, show that the CME left the sun at speeds of around 375 miles per second, which is a fairly typical speed for CMEs.

This movie shows two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) erupting from the sun on Jan. 23, 2013. The first was not directed at Earth; the second one is, but is not expected to have a strong impact. The movie was captured by the joint ESA/NASA mission the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), beginning at 7 p.m. EST on Jan. 22 and ending at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 23.

Credit: ESA, NASA/SOHO/Goddard Space Flight Center

› Download video (19 MB mov)

Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and reach Earth one to three days later.

721673main1201301231512.jpg

The second of two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) on Jan. 23, 2013, is seen erupting in the top of the picture, away from the sun, which is obscured by the disk in the center. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory captured this image, called a coronagraph: the bright light of the sun itself is blocked to provide a better view of the sun's atmosphere, the corona. This CME left the sun at speeds of 375 miles per second (1.35 million mph), which is almost 10 times lower than the very fastest CMEs.

Credit: ESA, NASA/SOHO

› Larger image

Earth-directed CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they connect with the outside of the Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. In the past, CMEs of this speed have not caused substantial geomagnetic storms. They sometimes cause auroras near the poles but are unlikely to affect electrical systems on Earth or interfere with GPS or satellite-based communications systems.

A slightly slower CME that was not Earth-directed, also erupted earlier in the day.

721671main1201301230612.jpg

The first of two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) on Jan. 23, 2013, can be seen erupting in the lower left portion of this image, from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. This CME was not Earth-directed. This image is what's known as a coronagraph, in which the bright light of the sun itself is blocked in order to better see the sun's atmosphere, the corona.

Credit: ESA, NASA/SOHO

› Larger image

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center is the United States government's official source for space weather forecasts.

Updates will be provided if needed.

What is a CME?

For answers to this and other space weather questions, please visit the Spaceweather Frequently Asked Questions page.

Karen C. Fox

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

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Those are amazing images!

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Just hoping no Class X's come our way myself.

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Just hoping no Class X's come our way myself.

We've been hit by several over the last 12 months (including 2 in a week in July) and no damage was done. I'm hoping we get a few more. It's not often I get to see the Aurora Borealis this far south.

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Good to know. I only know they can be dangerous. Thanks for the heads up.

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I only know they can be dangerous.

No they can't.

They can cause power outages, affect communications and damage satellites but they pose no direct threat to humans at all.

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correct

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No they can't.

They can cause power outages, affect communications and damage satellites but they pose no direct threat to humans at all.

It just 'sounds' nasty!

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We've been hit by several over the last 12 months (including 2 in a week in July) and no damage was done. I'm hoping we get a few more. It's not often I get to see the Aurora Borealis this far south.

Ya very cool

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No they can't.

They can cause power outages, affect communications and damage satellites but they pose no direct threat to humans at all.

Those all pose a threat Waspie

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Those all pose a threat Waspie

Yes, hence my use of the word "DIRECT".

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They can cause power outages, affect communications and damage satellites but they pose no direct threat to humans at all.

I think power outages and satellite disruptions are a threat to humans in many ways.

Is it my imagination or are we having an unusually active solar maximum this time around?

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What would it take to get an Aurora in Vietnam (about ten degrees north of the Equator)?

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I think power outages and satellite disruptions are a threat to humans in many ways.

Is it my imagination or are we having an unusually active solar maximum this time around?

I don't think it is unusually active... I think it is average or below-average. We are just coming out of an unusually long solar minimum though, so it is certainly a lot more active than it has been over the last 5+ years.

What would it take to get an Aurora in Vietnam (about ten degrees north of the Equator)?

Check out this site: http://spaceweather.com/

If you scroll down you will see the "Current Aurora Oval" and the "Planetary K-index". For Vietnam the K-index would probably have to go to 10.

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