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Pinedale Online > News > December 2014 > Solar CME may sideswipe Earth in next several days

Solar CME. Photo by NASA.
Solar CME
Photo taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
Solar CME may sideswipe Earth in next several days
Solar flare electromagnetic pulses can impact your electronics or telecommunications equipment
by Pinedale Online!
December 20, 2014

There was an X-class eruption from the Sun today (Saturday, December 20th) that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters say may have ejected a large solar cloud CME whose trajectory may cross the Earth’s path in two or three days and may cause some minor geomagnetic storms this weekend.

This is a natural event, but one that anyone with electronics or dependent on telecommunications equipment should be aware of and may want to monitor updates. Most people are unprepared for CME events, some of which, whether natural or man-caused terrorism events, can damage or destroy electronic equipment, blackout telecommunications, and even disable electronic controls in vehicles.

When sunspots erupt from our Sun they can create solar flares or coronal mass ejection (CME) plumes of particle material that fly away from the eruption site on the surface of the Sun into space. These eruptions can produce bursts of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to x-rays and gamma-rays. Some of that ejected material can reach the earth within hours or may take days. If that ejected plume traveling into space from the Sun crosses the path of the Earth, it can cause minor to major impacts and disruptions to electronic communication systems, depending on the size and intensity of the eruption from the Sun. Government and private entities watch and track these incidents and alerts are issued if there appears to be a possibility of a brush with our atmosphere that might impact telecommunications, air traffic, or other national interests.

Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized that can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.

According to information posted on for Dec. 20th, radio emissions from shock waves rippling through the sun's atmosphere suggest that a CME is en route from today’s solar eruption. However, they are still waiting for data from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) coronagraphs to confirm the existence and trajectory of a massive storm cloud. If a CME is coming, it will probably take 2 to 3 days to reach Earth.

For those interested in more information, how to receive space weather alerts, and what you can do to protect your electronics, check out the links below. Much more information is available by doing a keyword search on the interenet.

Related Links:
Coronal mass ejection (CME) Wikipedia
Solar Flare vs. CME - What's The Difference? Video -
SOHO Solar & Heliospheric Observatory
Can We Predict Solar Flares—And Protect Our Satellites? Popular Mechanics, Oct. 22, 2014
Protecting Your Electrical Equipment from Solar Flares. By Mike Bertone,
Electromagnetic Pulse Protection

Pinedale Online > News > December 2014 > Solar CME may sideswipe Earth in next several days

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