UPDATE: Now you can see a video of the CME below as well. Check it out!
At 4:36 pm Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, August 31st, a coronal mass ejection (CME) erupted out into space from the sun. “[A] long filament of solar material that had been hovering in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona,” blasted away from the surface of our star. Because they spend quite a bit of time watching such things, various NASA facilities—including their Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO), and the joint ESA/NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)—captured an array of stunning images of the event.
Though the CME didn’t head directly for Earth, it came close enough to cause a bit of a solar ruckus. Travelling at more than 900 miles per second, the CME did briefly connect with Earth’s magnetosphere. This quick brush led to aurora appearing in the night sky on Monday, September 3rd.
A CME is essentially a blast of plasma comprised mainly of protons and electrons. The eruptions contain large amounts of electromagnetic radiation. Besides causing bouts of northern and southern lights, they have been known to disrupt radio, satellite, and electronic transmissions on Earth, as well as leading to power outages.
There’s not a whole lot to say about these pictures. It’s probably best to stand back, allow you to take a peek, and let them speak for themselves.