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This figure shows the composition of a large event which was measured by ACE-SWICS on May 3 and compares it to standard solar wind composition (labelled slow solar wind). The Fe and O charge state show that the CME plasma is composed of a very hot (about 2.5-3 million K) and a very cold (less than 0.3 million K) component.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of ACE-SWICS

ACE Satellite Probes Solar Event
News story originally written on June 8, 1998

Have you ever seen an explosion before? Maybe you've seen a volcano explode on t.v. Or maybe you've seen a potato explode in the microwave because you forgot to poke holes in it. Well, explosions happen on the Sun too. We call these explosions coronal mass ejections or CME's.

The ACE spacecraft just recorded one of these explosions on May 3, 1998. These CMEs send material flying away from the Sun. Sometimes that material hits the Earth. If the material does hit the Earth, it can cause geomagnetic storms, aurorae or electrical power blackouts.

So we need to know when these CMEs are coming. That is why we have spacecraft like ACE. The ACE satellite is a spaceweather station in orbit. ACE can provide about one-hour advance warning of any major geomagnetic storms.


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