Saturday 16 March 2013

Coronal Mass Ejection

We may be in for a bit of a solar storm soon. A recent coronal mass ejection (CME) has been predicted as being on a direct impact with the earth, sometime in the next 24 hours. As a result, we could be in for some interesting auroral displays. Certainly KAIRA will be operating throughout this time as part of its ongoing riometry project. We also hope to obtain some EISCAT data too.

We know about CMEs typically from solar observatories. Although the material that is ejected from the sun is moving extremely quickly, it still can take a couple of days to reach the earth.

A recent coronal mass ejection (CME). Image: LASCO C2 / SOHO.

LASCO (Large Angle Spectrometric Coronagraph) is a camera on the SOHO spacecraft. It uses a block (occulter) to obscure the sun itself, thus allowing the camera to be more sensitive to the fainter material that is streaming out as part of the solar wind. The size of the sun's disc is indicated by the white circle.The radial line features are coronal streamers. The blast of material is the coronal mass ejection and it can be seen being expelled away from the Sun. This image shows the inner solar corona up to 8.4 million kilometers (5.25 million miles) away from the Sun.

We will post up more information as the weekend goes on to report on anything interesting that we find!

Link:  SOHO website

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