Activity on the sun has been continuing in the past few days since a large coronal mass ejection, or CME, erupted from the Sun on November 23, 2012, at 8:54 a.m. EST. Further solar eruptions are a possibility in the near term.
The image above was taken by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), capturing the moment that the November 23rd CME erupted from the left side of the sun. This type of image is known as a coronagraph, where the brightest light from the sun is blocked from view so that the dimmer structures in the sun’s atmosphere, or corona, are viewable.
Based on data from the Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, which was then put through experimental NASA test models, the November 23rd CME exploded from the sun at around 375 miles per second. For a CME that is which is a slow to normal speed. This was the third such Earth-directed CME since November 20th.
“Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and can reach Earth one to three days later. When Earth-directed, CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when CMEs successfully connect up 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 usually caused substantial geomagnetic storms. They have caused auroras near the poles but are unlikely to cause disruptions to electrical systems on Earth or interfere with GPS or satellite-based communications systems.”
Image Credits: ESA&NASA/SOHO