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article imageSun ejects giant CME at 1.5 million miles per hour

By Sonia D'Costa     Jun 2, 2014 in Science
The sun emitted a massive coronal mass ejection (CME) on May 9, 2014, the first to be seen by the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS) of NASA, which was launched in June 2013 to closely observe the lower levels of the solar atmosphere.
The sight of the huge solar mass shooting out of the sun at a breathtakingly high speed of 1.5 million miles per hour is indeed fascinating, more so as it is as wide as five earths and as tall as seven-and-a-half earths.
The IRIS Observatory, which was designed by the Lockheed Martin Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory, has to make preparations one day in advance to view a CME, which makes it very difficult to actually capture one. Bart De Pontieu of the Lockheed Solar & Astrophysics Laboratory said that the observatory must “focus in on active regions to try to see a flare or a CME.” The researchers have to then just wait for something to happen. Calling it “the first clear CME for IRIS,” he said that it has excited the team no end.
A report on The Daily Mail speaks in detail about CMEs, which involve massive changes in solar magnetic fields and make huge sections of the solar surface to expand at a rapid pace and release huge amounts of solar particles into space. This material reaches Earth in 2 – 3 days, and when it does so, Earth’s magnetic field gets peeled off, interfering in communication signals and creating sudden changes in power grids. However, this CME has not affected Earth in any way.
It may be recalled that a powerful solar flare was observed on May 29, 2013. A large X-class flare of great energy, NASA has only recently analyzed all the data associated with it. Researching solar flares is believed to improve human understanding of the impact of solar eruptions on Earth.
More about NASA, sun emits massive flare, Iris, May 9
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