Astronomy Picture of the Day

Sun Storm: A Coronal Mass Ejection

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Sun Storm: A Coronal Mass Ejection

What's happening to our Sun?

Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)!

The Sun-orbiting
SOHO spacecraft has imaged many
erupting filaments lifting off
the active solar surface and blasting enormous bubbles of
magnetic plasma into space.

Direct light from the sun is blocked in the inner part of the
above image, taken in 2002, and replaced by a simultaneous image of the Sun in
ultraviolet light.

The field of view extends over two million kilometers from the solar surface.

While hints of
these explosive events, called
coronal mass ejections or CMEs,
were discovered by spacecraft in the early 70s,
this dramatic image is part of a detailed record
of this CME's development from the presently operating
SOHO spacecraft.

Near the minimum of the
solar activity cycle
CMEs occur about once a week, but near solar maximum rates
of two or more per day are typical.

Strong CMEs may profoundly influence
space weather.

Those directed toward our planet can have
serious effects.

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