Center for Magnetic Self Organization
in Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas
Coronal Mass Ejection
Size: diameter as large as the Sun itself!
Mass: 1-10 billion tons
Distance: 93 million miles
Temperature: up to 100,000°C
Flow Speed: up to 2 million mph
Location: The surface of the Sun,
but can reach Earth 1-5 days after eruption
Image Credit: SOHO (ESA & NASA)
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During a solar flare, magnetic field lines can twist up and suddenly snap like rubber bands under tension, releasing huge quantities of fast-moving plasma into space in a spectacular burst called a coronal mass ejection (CME).
CMEs are the largest explosions in our solar system, roughly equal to the power in one billion hydrogen bombs!
If the CME is directed towards Earth, it can cause strong aurorae at Earth's magnetic poles, can damage satellites, and disrupt radio and electrical signals.