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?…
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.