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NASA Warning on Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • NASA issues a warning amid a surge in sunspots, indicating the likelihood of multiple Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) from the Sun.

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs)

  • CMEs are large expulsions of plasma and magnetic fields from the Sun’s corona, the outermost part of its atmosphere.
  • Typically associated with sunspot groups, CMEs are often accompanied by solar flares and solar wind.

 

Sunspots

  • Sunspots are dark spots on the Sun’s surface where the magnetic field is strong.
  • They appear dark because they are cooler than other parts of the Sun’s surface.

 

Solar Wind

  • Solar wind is a stream of charged particles released from the Sun’s corona during CMEs.
  • It can eject billions of tons of coronal material and carries an embedded magnetic field.

 

Solar Flares

  • Solar flares are intense bursts of radiation associated with sunspots.
  • Categorized by strength: B-class (smallest), C, M, and X (largest).
  • Each letter signifies a ten-fold increase in energy output, similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes.

 

CME Impact

  • Aurora Formation: Interaction with Earth’s magnetic field leads to the formation of auroras.
  • Radio Blackouts: Disruption of radio communications.
  • Satellite Damage: CMEs can potentially damage satellites.
  • Navigation System Errors: Impact on navigation systems due to magnetic field variations.
  • Astronaut Exposure: Increased radiation exposure for astronauts in space.

 

Impact on Earth

  • Solar flares directly affect the ionosphere and can disrupt radio communications on Earth.
  • The fastest Earth-directed CMEs can reach our planet in as little as 15-18 hours after being expelled from the Sun.
  • Space agencies and organizations monitor sunspot activities to issue warnings and take precautions for potential impacts on Earth’s systems.

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