The sun unleashed an M-2 (medium-sized) solar flare with a spectacular coronal mass ejection, or CME, on June 7, 2011. The large cloud of particles mushroomed up and fell back down looking as if it covered an area of almost half the solar surface.
NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory observed the flare’s peak at 1:41 a.m. EDT. SDO recorded these images in extreme ultraviolet light that show a very large eruption of cool gas. It is somewhat unique because at many places in the eruption there seems to be even cooler material — at temperatures less than 80,000° K.
When viewed in NASA’s Solar and and Heliospheric Observatory’s coronagraphs, the event shows bright plasma and high-energy particles roaring from the sun. This Earth-directed CME is moving at 1,400 km/s according to NASA models. Due to its angle, however, effects on Earth should be fairly small. Nevertheless, it may generate space weather effects such as aurora here on Earth in a few days.
To see videos of the CME visit the Solar Dynamic Observatory website.
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