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Artist's conception of an impending collision between a coronal mass ejection and the Earth's magnetosphere.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Spiral Path of Material

For a planet to be affected by a blob of material being ejected by the sun, the planet must be in the path of the blob, as shown in this picture. The Earth and its magnetosphere are shown in the bottom right.

Disturbances in the solar wind arrive at the Earth within hours to days after a violent event on the Sun.

If the Earth were on the other side of the Sun (the top left of the picture), then the blob would miss the Earth, and there would be no geomagnetic storm or powerful aurora.

Last modified October 3, 2000 by Jennifer Bergman.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA