Double trouble (w/ Video)

Jul 23, 2013

Two solar eruptions expand side-by-side into space in this movie, playing out in front of the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO, on 1–2 July 2013.

The eruptions were coronal , or CMEs, huge clouds of magnetised plasma ejected from the Sun's atmosphere – the corona – and launched into interplanetary space.

CMEs comprise millions of tonnes of gas and race away from the Sun at several million kilometres per hour.

In the event shown in this movie, one small CME slowly emerges directly above the Sun as seen by SOHO. Shortly after, a much larger, faster event bursts from the left, and together the CMEs expand into space.

The larger event was likely triggered as a became unstable and lifted away from the Sun. Filaments form in magnetic loops and suspend cool, above the .

From above, filaments appear as dark lineaments against the hotter surface below, but in profile they form giant glowing loops called prominences. When their magnetic fields become unstable, they can trigger flares or CMEs.

Neither of these two CMEs interacted with Earth but when other events like these do, even a glancing blow to the planet's magnetic field can ignite spectacular natural light displays – aurora – over the poles.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

But in the most extreme events CMEs can cause much trouble, initiating that can result in regional power outages and communications blackouts.

The shaded disc at the centre of the image is a mask in SOHO's LASCO instrument that blots out direct sunlight to allow study of the faint details in the Sun's corona. The white circle added within the disc shows the size and position of the visible Sun.

Explore further: Elon Musk's SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The Sun has a great idea

Jul 24, 2012

(Phys.org) -- A light bulb-shaped eruption leaps from the Sun and blasts into space in this archival image from the ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, SOHO.   SOHO captured the scene on 27 Febru ...

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 ...

Sun erupts with a CME toward Earth and Mercury

Jul 10, 2013

On July 9, 2013, at 11:09 a.m. EDT, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to ...

Coronal mass ejection to pass Earth, Messenger and Juno

Jul 16, 2013

On July 16, 2013, at 12:09 a.m. EDT, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one ...

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 ...

SOLIS observatory gives new insights into space weather

Jul 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —Shifts in the magnetic field just above the surface of the Sun lead to liftoff of interplanetary "space storms," according to new results from the Synoptic Optical Long-Term Investigation of the Sun (SOLIS) ...

Recommended for you

Elon Musk's SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

7 hours ago

A spacecraft company run by billionaire Elon Musk has dropped a lawsuit alleging the U.S. Air Force improperly awarded a contract to launch military satellites to a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed ...

NASA spacecraft almost to Pluto: Smile for the camera!

Jan 23, 2015

It's showtime for Pluto. NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has traveled 3 billion miles and is nearing the end of its nine-year journey to Pluto. Sunday, it begins photographing the mysterious, unexplored, icy ...

Gullies on Vesta suggest past water-mobilized flows

Jan 23, 2015

(Phys.org)—Protoplanet Vesta, visited by NASA's Dawn spacecraft from 2011 to 2013, was once thought to be completely dry, incapable of retaining water because of the low temperatures and pressures at its ...

SOHO and Hinode offer new insight into solar eruptions

Jan 23, 2015

The sun is home to the largest explosions in the solar system. For example, it regularly produces huge eruptions known as coronal mass ejections – when billions of tons of solar material erupt off the sun, ...

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.