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Aurora Alert! Sun Sends CME in Earth’s Direction

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.


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous January 19, 2012, 11:08 PM

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

    • Anonymous January 20, 2012, 1:18 PM

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

  • Ann Gates January 19, 2012, 11:35 PM

    Don’t believe NASA

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

    NASA didnt try to debunk this?

  • Delaware Jack January 23, 2012, 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