NASA spacecraft observe Nov. 20 solar eruption

Nov 20, 2012 by Karen C. Fox
NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) captured this image of a coronal mass ejection on Nov. 20, 2012 at 8:54 a.m. EST, about two hours after it left the sun. Credit: NASA/STEREO

On Nov. 20, 2012, at 7:09 a.m. EST, the sun erupted with a coronal mass ejection or CME. 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 affect electronic systems in satellites and on Earth.

Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from the (STEREO), show that the Nov. 20 CME left the sun at speeds of 450 miles per second, which is a slow to average speed for CMEs. CMEs can cause a space 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.

Explore further: Rosetta's comet: In the shadow of the coma

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sun releases slow moving CME

Nov 12, 2012

On Nov. 9, 2012, at 10:24 a.m. EST, the sun emitted an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME). A CME is a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space and can reach Earth ...

NASA sees sun unleash a wide, but benign, CME

Sep 28, 2012

The sun erupted with a wide, Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) on Sept. 27, 2012 at 10:25 p.m. EDT. CMEs are a phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space that can reach ...

Solar flares: What does it take to be X-class?

Aug 10, 2011

Solar flares are giant explosions on the sun that send energy, light and high speed particles into space. These flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). ...

Six coronal mass ejections in 24 hours

Sep 22, 2011

The sun let loose with at least six coronal mass ejections (CMEs) -- solar phenomena that can send solar particles into space and affect electronic systems in satellites -- from 7 PM ET on September 18, 2011 ...

Moderate Labor Day solar flare eruption

Sep 07, 2011

At 9:35 PM ET on September 5, 2011, the sun emitted an Earth-directed M5.3 class flare as measured by the GOES satellite. The flare erupted from a region of the sun that appears close to dead center from Earth's ...

Recommended for you

Rosetta's comet: In the shadow of the coma

4 hours ago

This NAVCAM mosaic comprises four individual images taken on 20 November from a distance of 30.8 km from the centre of Comet 67P/C-G. The image resolution is 2.6 m/pixel, so each original 1024 x 1024 pixel ...

DNA survives critical entry into Earth's atmosphere

Nov 26, 2014

The genetic material DNA can survive a flight through space and re-entry into the earth's atmosphere—and still pass on genetic information. A team of scientists from UZH obtained these astonishing results ...

Team develops cognitive test battery for spaceflight

Nov 26, 2014

Space is one of the most demanding and unforgiving environments. Human exploration of space requires astronauts to maintain consistently high levels of cognitive performance to ensure mission safety and success, and prevent ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.