Categories: sun

The Sun Burps Out a Gigantic Rolling Wave

Just in time for May Day, the Sun blasted out a coronal mass ejection (CME) from just around the limb earlier today, May 1, 2013. In a gigantic rolling wave, this CME shot out about a billion tons of particles into space, traveling at over a million miles per hour. This CME is not headed toward Earth. The video, taken in extreme ultraviolet light by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), covers about two and a half hours of elapsed time.

Camilla, the rubber chicken mascot for the SDO, said via YouTube that getting this side view shows the power and force behind these solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

This image shows three views of the CME from three different instruments. Left is the SDO image, taken at 02:40 UT. Center is from the SOHO spacecraft, looking through their coronograph instrument. The “mushroom” cloud of plasma leaving the Sun is visible. On the right is the LASCO C2 (red) and C3 (blue) instruments on SOHO, which use a disk to block out the Sun. Visible are the solid occulter disk, used to create a false eclipse; the “pylon”, which is an arm that holds the occulter disk in place; a representation of the Sun in the form of a white disk drawn on the occulter during our image processing and then you can see background stars and the cloud of plasma leaving the Sun.

A coronal mass ejection from the Sun on May 1, 2013. Credit: NASA/SDO
Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

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