Collisions of coronal mass ejections can be super-elastic

May 22, 2013

Coronal mass ejections (CMEs), emissions of magnetized ionized gas from the Sun, can damage satellites and communication technology, so being able to predict where they are heading and how much energy they have is important in protecting this technology.

Sometimes two CMEs collide and bounce off each other like elastic balls, changing their directions and speeds. It has been suggested that in some cases the collisions can even be super-elastic, which means that the total of the two colliding CMEs actually increases after the collision as some of the thermal or in the CMEs is converted to kinetic energy. However, the super-elastic nature of these collisions had not been confirmed until now.

Shen et al. conducted three-dimensional magnetohydrodynamic simulations based on an observed collision of two CMEs in 2008. They compared a simulated non-collision case with a simulated collision case and find that the collision between CMEs does undergo a super-elastic process. The kinetic energy gained in the collision was about 3 to 4 percent, which closely matches observations. The study confirms that CME collisions can be super-elastic.

Explore further: Video gives astronaut's-eye view inside NASA's Orion spacecraft

More information: "Could the collision of CMEs in the heliosphere be super-elastic? Validation through three-dimensional simulations" Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1002/grl.50336, 2013. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/grl.50336/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sun produces two CMEs

Feb 07, 2013

In the evening of Feb. 5, 2013, the sun erupted with two coronal mass ejections or CMEs that may glance near-Earth space. Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from the Solar Terrestrial ...

Sun spits out two CMEs

Mar 13, 2013

The sun recently erupted with two coronal mass ejections (CMEs). One began at 8:36 p.m. EDT on March 12, 2013 and is directed toward three NASA spacecraft, Spitzer, Kepler and Epoxi. There is, however, no ...

NASA spacecraft observe Nov. 20 solar eruption

Nov 20, 2012

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 ...

The sun sends two CMEs toward Mercury

Apr 25, 2013

On the night of April 24 and the morning of April 25, 2013, the sun erupted with two coronal mass ejections (CMEs), solar phenomena that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space that can affect ...

Recommended for you

Water fleas prepared for trip to space

1 hour ago

Local 'Daphnia' waterfleas are currently being prepared by scientists at the University of Birmingham for their trip to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will be observed by astronauts.

The worst trip around the world

1 hour ago

As you celebrate the end of the year in the warmth of your home, spare a thought for the organisms riding with a third-class ticket on the International Space Station – bolted to the outside with no protection ...

Four Galileo satellites at ESA test centre

2 hours ago

ESA engineers unwrapped a welcome Christmas present: the latest Galileo satellite. The navigation satellite will undergo a full checkout in Europe's largest satellite test facility to prove its readiness ...

Funding challenges for Orion and SLS

3 hours ago

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is the audit, evaluation, and investigative arm of Congress, which exists to support Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and to help improve ...

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.