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The Sun Blasts Out Two CME’s Towards Mercury

the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured this series of four images of a coronal mass ejection (CME) escaping the sun on the morning of April 25, 2013. The images show the CME from 5:24 a.m. to 6:48 a.m. EDT. This was the second of two CMEs in the space of 12 hours. Both are headed away from Earth toward Mercury. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO.

the Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) captured this series of four images of a coronal mass ejection (CME) escaping the sun on the morning of April 25, 2013. The images show the CME from 5:24 a.m. to 6:48 a.m. EDT. This was the second of two CMEs in the space of 12 hours. Both are headed away from Earth toward Mercury. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO.

Over the past 24 hours, the Sun has erupted with two coronal mass ejections (CMEs), sending billions of tons of solar particles into space. While these CMEs are not directed at Earth, they are heading towards Mercury and may affect the Messenger spacecraft, as well as the Sun-watching STEREO-A satellites. One CME may send a glancing blow of particles to Mars, possibly affecting spacecraft at the Red Planet.

This solar radiation can affect electronic systems on spacecraft, and the various missions have been put on alert. When warranted, NASA operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from the solar material.

The first CME began at 01:30 UTC on April 25 (9:30 p.m. EDT on April 24), and the second erupted at 09:24 UTC (5:24 a.m. EDT) on April 25. Both left the sun traveling at about 800 kilometers (500 miles per second).

See this animation from the STEREO-B spacecraft:

Animations of CMEs on April 25, 2013 from the STEREO-B spacecraft. Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center.

Source: NASA

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • "Me" April 25, 2013, 5:38 PM

    Here at one of the labs I work with. We are watching these events very closely. Lil’Merc is “the lil’rock of horrors” w/CME’s. It gets bombarded constantly.

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