How Big Was Monday’s CME?

by Jason Major on April 19, 2012

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April 16's M-class solar flare erupted with a CME that could dwarf the Earth, shown here to scale. (NASA/SDO/J. Major)

This big! The M1.7-class flare that erupted from active region 1461 on Monday, April 16 let loose an enormous coronal mass ejection many, many times the size of Earth, making this particular writer very happy that our planet was safely tucked out of aim at the time… and 93 million miles away.

The image above was obtained by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory’s AIA 304 imaging instrument on Monday during the height of the event. I rotated the disk of the Sun 90 degrees to get a landscape look over the eastern limb, cropped it down and then added an Earth image to scale — just to show how fantastically huge our home star really is.

(Read “Watch it Rain on the Sun”)

Some minor editing was done to increase contrast and heighten detail in the eruption.

The CME was not directed our way, but it was aimed at NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft, which will encounter the ejected material full-on.

Read more about this event in a previous Universe Today post here, and check out hi-def videos of the CME from SDO here.

Image credit: NASA/SDO and the AIA science team. Edited by Jason Major.


A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Zoutsteen from Holland April 19, 2012 at 3:40 AM

Is that what we can expect in 5bn years, but extending to 2-3 AU and on an hourly basis?

Jason Major April 19, 2012 at 5:15 AM

Pretty much.

justletmepostdammit April 19, 2012 at 9:33 PM

daily weather report would looks insane

Jon Souter April 19, 2012 at 8:17 AM

Nice image – though it looks like your representation of Earth is somewhat larger than actual scale.

Jason Major April 19, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Maybe slightly, but it’s close. Scale illustration:

Damian April 19, 2012 at 9:09 AM

I would love to see IBEX data when these kinds of CMEs hit the Solar Heliosheath. It would be intersting to understand how such energy outbursts at the sun propagate thoughout the Solar system with respect to its magnetic heliospheric current sheet.

The sun is the centre of complex dynamic system, and while this CME missed us, its still pumping tremendous amounts of energy into the solar dynamo. Does the Heliosheath enlarge like a balloon due to diffusion at its boundary regardless of a sunspots origin on the sun?

Juliano Toporoski Micheletto April 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM

How big is this eruption in comparison with that one that bathed the Earth in the last middle March?

dzuby dzuby April 19, 2012 at 3:13 PM

Video from :

Olaf2 April 19, 2012 at 5:26 PM

They always talk about how big such a CME “appears”, but never how dense and how big that mass would be when it had the typical density of Earth.

bugzzz April 19, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Fried chicken on a grand scale.

Aqua4U April 19, 2012 at 8:50 PM

Magnetically constrained plasma rain
falls back on the Sun
due to electric attraction.

go figure

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