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Coronal Mass Ejection Headed for Earth? | by NASA Goddard Photo and Video
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Coronal Mass Ejection Headed for Earth?

NASA image acquired August 1, 2010


Caption: On August 1st, almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun erupted in a tumult of activity. There was a C3-class solar flare, a solar tsunami, multiple filaments of magnetism lifting off the stellar surface, large-scale shaking of the solar corona, radio bursts, a coronal mass ejection and more. This extreme ultraviolet snapshot from the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) shows the sun's northern hemisphere in mid-eruption. Different colors in the image represent different gas temperatures ranging from ~1 to 2 million degrees K.


Credit: NASA/SDO


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.


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NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is home to the nation's largest organization of combined scientists, engineers and technologists that build spacecraft, instruments and new technology to study the Earth, the sun, our solar system, and the universe.


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Taken on August 1, 2010