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Artist's conception of an impending collision between a coronal mass ejection and the Earth's magnetosphere.
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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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