Movie: A Computer Model of a CME - from the Sun to Earth
Movie: Journey Beneath a Sunspot
Movie: Geomagnetic Substorm Triggered by CME from Sun
A movie of a coronal mass ejection in white light, courtesy of the High Altitude Observatory (180K MPEG) Movie credit
Movie: Aurora and THEMIS Satellite
Coronal Mass EjectionsHave 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 your mom forgot to poke holes in it. Well, explosions happen on the Sun too. We call these explosions coronal mass ejections or CME's. You can see a picture of a CME to the left!
Even though the Sun is very far away, these explosions on the Sun can affect things on Earth. Material that is thrown out from the Sun during a CME can disrupt radio communications or fry satellite electronics. This material can also cause strong geomagnetic storms, aurorae and power blackouts.
Because CME's affect Earth, we need to know when they are happening. Satellites like the ACE satellite act as a spaceweather station while in orbit. ACE can provide advance warning of any geomagnetic storms that would affect the Earth.