Home Science Space Coronal mass ejection headed to Earth March 17-18, 2013
Coronal mass ejection on March 15, 2013 Coronal mass ejection on March 15, 2013 NASA/ESA

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A magnetic eruption on the Sun has sent a coronal mass ejection (CME) on a course headed directly to Earth. It is expected to arrive at our home planet on March 17-18, 2013. Auroras may be observed in the high and middle latitudes.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) reported that the Sun erupted with this CME on Friday March 15, 2013, at 2:54 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). See the images, above, taken of this CME.

The NASA space probe Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) and the NASA/European Space Administration (ESA) space probe Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) observed and recorded the CME event.

And, weather forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) state that there is a 70% chance that polar geomagnetic storms could occur beginning on March 17th or the 18th at the latest.

The geomagnetic storm occurs when a CME interacts with the Earth's magnetosphere. This interaction can adversely affect electronic systems on satellites circling around the Earth and on various electronic systems based here on the surface of Earth.

The CME left the Sun at a speed of approximately 900 miles (1,450 kilometers) per second. It contained billions of tons of radioactive solar particles. At this speed, the CME should arrive at Earth in two or three days.

Auroras could be produced by this event, sky watchers may see them in the high latitudes and even possibly people in the middle-latitudes might observe them, too.

For more information on this March 17, 2013 event, go to http://spaceweather.com.


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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University