Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Coronal Mass Ejection Headed for Earth?

On August 1st around 0855 UT, the Sun let loose a C3-class solar flare. The origin of the blast was Earth-facing sunspot 1092. C-class solar flares are small (when compared to X- and M-class flares) and usually have few noticeable consequences here on Earth. This flare, however, was accompanied by a very fast coronal mass ejection that appears to be heading in Earth's direction.

Coronal mass ejections (or CMEs) are large clouds of charged particles that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours and can carry over ten billion tons (10^16 grams) of plasma. They travel away from the Sun at speeds than can exceed several million miles per hour, and can make the 93-million-mile journey to Earth in as little as a day.

read the rest of the article at nasa.gov