NASA’s fleet of spacecraft observing the sun have sent back fascinating and beautiful video from the most recent coronal mass ejection, when a massive burst of matter and magnetic fields shoot out from the star into space.
Four spacecraft recorded the eruption in the extreme ultraviolet band of the electromagnetic spectrum over the course of 2.5 hours. The space agency says CMEs typically eject more than one billion tons of particles at a speed faster than one million miles per hour.
The sun shot out a torrent of charged particles on March 15 in an event called a coronal mass ejection (CME). The eruption, which occurred at 3:24 a.m. EDT, sent what might have amounted to billions of tons of electrons and protons streaming toward the Earth at 900 miles per second, NASA says.
(The ESA and NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured these images of the sun spitting out the March 15 CME. This type of image is known as a coronagraph, since a disk is placed over the sun to better see the dimmer atmosphere around it, called the corona. Courtesy ESA&NASA/SOHO)
The space agency produced a space weather research model, below, to simulate the CME’s path. It repeats the ejection four times. On the left is a top-down view of the inner solar system. The right shows Earth from the side as the simulated CME passes it.