We have completed maintenance on DiscoverMagazine.com and action may be required on your account. Learn More

The Sun is Getting Restless

ImaGeo iconImaGeo
By Tom Yulsman
Apr 12, 2013 7:01 AMNov 19, 2019 8:27 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Click on the image, captured by the Solar Heliospheric Observatory, to see an animation of a coronal mass ejection from the sun on the morning of April 11, 2013. (Image: Goddard Space Flight Center.) If recent posts here at ImaGeo are any indication, I must be obsessed with the sun. Just yesterday, I posted an incredible image of the solar surface. And here I am, at it once again. But I didn't tell the sun to let loose billions of tons solar particles into space today, in what scientists call a coronal mass ejection, or CME. (Update 4/12: 

Now I'm at it again. See my post today about how the Earth protects itself from these gargantuan solar explosions.)

If you haven't done it already, click on the image above for an animation of images sent back to Earth by the Solar Heliospheric Observatory showing the CME exploding from the sun's surface and racing out into space. Mars is visible in the image. I'm a little unclear whether the animation actually shows the particles reaching all the way to the Red Planet. NASA's news item on the event didn't say. (Mars could behind the sun, giving the impression that it was blasted by the solar eruption when it might not have been.) Evidently, the eruption of particles did reach us. From NASA:

This flare is classified as an M6.5 flare, some ten times less powerful than the strongest flares, which are labeled X-class flares. M-class flares are the weakest flares that can still cause some space weather effects near Earth. This flare produced a radio blackout that has since subsided.

No other details, unfortunately. Such as where, how bad, etc. Want more eye candy?...

The surface of the sun is seen here in a SOHO image as a solar flare explodes from its surface. (Image: Goddard Space Flight Center.) NASA says this is the strongest flare so far in 2013. And we should expect more, as the sun heads toward its expected peak of activity late in the year — part of the 11-year solar cycle.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2024 Kalmbach Media Co.