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: Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

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

Bacteria manipulate salt to build shelters to hibernate

9 hours ago

For the first time, Spanish researchers have detected an unknown interaction between microorganisms and salt. When Escherichia coli cells are introduced into a droplet of salt water and is left to dry, b ...

How do we terraform Venus?

9 hours ago

It might be possible to terraform Venus some day, when our technology gets good enough. The challenges for Venus are totally different than for Mars. How will we need to fix Venus?

Biomarkers of the deep

11 hours ago

Tucked away in the southwest corner of Spain is a unique geological site that has fascinated astrobiologists for decades. The Iberian Pyrite Belt (IPB) in Spain's Río Tinto area is the largest known deposit ...

User comments : 0