Aurora Alert! Sun Sends CME in Earth’s Direction

by Nancy Atkinson on January 19, 2012

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As seen here by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, a long duration M3-class flare began erupting on the Sun from sunspot region 1401 at 13:42 UTC (8:42 AM ET) today, Thursday, January 19, 2012, sending a coronal mass ejection (CME) directly towards Earth. Scientists predict the CME will arrive at around 16:00 UTC on January 21, 2012 GMT. Spaceweather.com says strong geomagnetic storms are possible and high-latitude (and possibly middle-latitude) skywatchers can be on the lookout for increased aurora.

NASA’s Space Weather Services estimates that the CME is traveling at over 1,000 kilometers per second (630 miles per second).

This same region produced some spectacular loop structures made of superheated plasma earlier this week. Just one of these loops is the size of several Earths. These loops can have a wide range of temperatures, many reaching several million Kelvin:

Earlier this week the Sun sent a similar blast towards Venus.

About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also is the host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast and works with Astronomy Cast. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Anonymous January 19, 2012 at 11:08 PM

I wonder, if they say it erupted at 13:42 UTC did they already subtracted 8 minutes?

Anonymous January 20, 2012 at 1:18 PM

Good question, I wonder what the convention is when putting a timestamp on solar events.

Ann Gates January 19, 2012 at 11:35 PM

Don’t believe NASA

Anonymous January 20, 2012 at 12:13 AM

Well of course there is no Sun… it’s just Bender’s shiny metal ass.

Jean-Pierre Dherbey January 20, 2012 at 5:04 AM

NASA didnt try to debunk this?

Isaac James Calabrese January 20, 2012 at 10:18 AM

whats to debunk???

Delaware Jack January 23, 2012 at 7:04 PM

Maybe after the Mayans foresaw the state of the world in 2012 with reality show people & ” celebrities ” as the new ” stars ‘ of the world & to who a vast majority of people in this feeble world sadly now obviously bow down to as their new ” gods “, their prognostication of the end of the World on 12/21/2012 is not so much of a prophecy, but perhaps is actually wishful thinking on their part ! lol

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