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The Sun Unleashes Coronal Mass Ejection At Earth

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the return-fire dept.

NASA 220

astroengine writes "Yesterday morning, at 08:55 UT, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory detected a C3-class flare erupt inside a sunspot cluster. 100,000 kilometers away, deep within the solar atmosphere (the corona), an extended magnetic field filled with cool plasma forming a dark ribbon across the face of the sun (a feature known as a 'filament') erupted at the exact same time. It seems very likely that both eruptions were connected after a powerful shock wave produced by the flare destabilized the filament, causing the eruption. A second solar observatory, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, then spotted a huge coronal mass ejection blast into space, straight in the direction of Earth. Solar physicists have calculated that this magnetic bubble filled with energetic particles should hit Earth on August 3, so look out for some intense aurorae — a solar storm is coming."

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220 comments

Terrific (0)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115616)

And knowing our luck it'll hit us straight in the eye.

The sun (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115686)

Scientists have found that the sun is a huge atom-smashing machine.

The heat and light of the sun are caused by nuclear reactions between estrogen, estrogen, estrogen and estrogen.

Re:The sun (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115954)

estrogen made me grow tits, and my dick limp.

Re:The sun (1)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116508)

I suppose that this means you'll never have to leave your house again.

Can't wait (4, Interesting)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116934)

It just means I get to take more pictures like these [flickr.com].

I wrote an application that keeps track of auroral potential WRT photography [jamesblish.com]. It's public domain, and you can get the latest version of the project here [fyngyrz.com]. Linux, OSX. Nothing for windows, sorry. At least, not without substantial linux-like underpinnings. Love to hear about it if you did get it running under windows, of course.

Re:Terrific (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116400)

Solar Bukkaki?

Astroporn (5, Funny)

iceborer (684929) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115634)

It's cosmic bukkake!

Re:Astroporn (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115794)

You're a jackass.

I just had to explain to my coworkers, including my female boss, why I laughed hard enough to snort iced tea all down my shirt. Trying to explain an astronomy joke to normals is one thing, but tying it into in a weird, totally NSFW Japanese fetish? She'll be glaring at me suspiciously all month.

Might as well get started on my resume....

Re:Astroporn (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115842)

There is this wonderful thing, called lying like a cheap rug, that would have helped you out there.

Re:Astroporn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115950)

And they say us nerds don't know how to deal with social situations... Instead of merely saying "oh, Uncle Jay sent me an email forward with 1000 lawyer jokes" you went ahead and explained a gross Japanese fetish to your colleagues.

Re:Astroporn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116186)

Oh, relax. I didn't actually explain bukkake to them. I left that up to their google skills (though it was obvious my neighbor got it when he looked over my shoulder). I played it off (clumsily) as an physics geek joke.

But you have a point. This is why I am not a lawyer or a politician.

Re:Astroporn (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116590)

But you have a point. This is why I am not a lawyer or a politician.

Yep, you have to be a good liar and a sociopath to be one of those.

Re:Astroporn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116854)

Wait... which one is the sociopath? I might have a decent career ahead of me!

Re:Astroporn (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33117168)

Both. Politicians are just another group of lawyers, with more experience. Lawyers typically start out as lawyers, and later advance to become either judges or politicians. Since a lawyer's entire job is to lie and twist the truth, and his entire training is about this, it should be little surprise that our society is so screwed up with the entire judicial system is populated by lawyers, as is the government.

Where do you work? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116472)

Do they pay you to surf Slashdot?

Where I work people are familiar enough with Rule 34 that if a female boss asks me what's bukkakke I can just say "Oh, you really wouldn't want to know" and she will get my meaning.

Browsing the net for topics entirely unrelated to my job would get me into much more trouble.

Re:Astroporn (1)

magus_melchior (262681) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116994)

As the Sun resembles a head more than a phallus, you could call it astronomical puke.

Of course, that would bring up other NSFW memes.

Re:Astroporn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116462)

It's Our Sun Jacking off, the Earth hit by the toss

So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (4, Interesting)

assemblerex (1275164) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115680)

I hope this isn't some hyped up story about something the sun does regularly.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (3, Informative)

jnaujok (804613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115878)

Going by the values on Wikipedia and NASA's GOES web site, a C3 CME is a total influx of about 3 micro-watts per square meter. For reference, normal solar insolation is about 360 watts per square meter. So, the answer to your rhetorical statement is, "Yes, this is being massively overhyped, because the sun hasn't done diddly squat over the last five years and someone has to justify paying billions of dollars for solar observing satellites."

Before anyone gets all pissy... yes, the CME comes in the form of energized protons and pico-wave X-Rays, so they are more destructive to human tissue than normal sunlight. But given that the Earth survived a Y+ level (1000-10,000 times more powerful) in 1859 with no one keeling over dead, I think we're safe.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (5, Informative)

bgt421 (1006945) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116036)

Not to be pedantic, but telegraph operators did drop dead during the Carrington Flare, if only because they were more or less attached to massive "antennas." Moreover, the usual threat of solar storms is not radiation to people, but to the radio equipment that makes modern life possible. This one should only graze the

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (5, Funny)

rachit (163465) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116128)

Not to be pedantic, but telegraph operators did drop dead during the Carrington Flare, if only because they were more or less attached to massive "antennas."
Moreover, the usual threat of solar storms is not radiation to people, but to the radio equipment that makes modern life possible. This one should only graze the

One should hope that bqt421 wasn't attached to massive "antennas" while posting this message.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116408)

Heart stopped... death... comes swiftly... Must... hit... Submit!

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33117078)

Oh, quite probably they were hooked up to the entire NASA Deep Space communications antennas.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (1)

jambox (1015589) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116054)

1859?? How did they measure solar radiation flux in those days?

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (4, Insightful)

jnaujok (804613) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116106)

It left an isotopic signature in the ices of Greenland that can still be measured today.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (2, Informative)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116384)

Well, for a few more years until it melts from global warming.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116426)

lol, well played.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116910)

But given that the Earth survived a Y+ level (1000-10,000 times more powerful) in 1859 with no one keeling over dead, I think we're safe.

Yeah, but they're all dead now. I'm gonna put my tinfoil hat on in case.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116604)

Not sure about you, but ust in case i got some triffid planted. Not sure what name will have Aug 3, but i know how to call Aug 4.

See? Is fun to overhype normal events. Is somewhat like April 1st, but can be practiced all the year.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116724)

"I hope this isn't some hyped up story about something the sun does regularly."

Like influence the climate.

Re:So should I unplug all my stuff or not? (2, Informative)

jo42 (227475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33117054)

You need to upgrade to a lead foil hat from the usual tin foil noggin protector to stop the cosmic rays from discombobulating your brain cells.

So.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115696)

Coronal Mass Ejection == Solar Money-shot?

That means I don't have to pay rent! (1)

socz (1057222) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115720)

So, I have to pay by the 3rd right...

This sequence of events led to a huge magnetic bubble of plasma being blasted into space. As the eruption was on the Earth-facing side of the sun, the CME is heading right for us -- see the SOHO video of the CME. We can expect its arrival on Aug. 3.

Re:That means I don't have to pay rent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115858)

spend all your money on beer and blow. Well, you were probably going to anyway.

It's time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115748)

Launch Class-5 nuke to the sun. Make it clear to that ball of fire who the boss is.

clarification requested. (2, Interesting)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115754)

sooo are you saying i should check out the sweet sunset that evening, or prepare for oblivion, or put on some sunscreen, or what? i beg your pardon, i'm just not sure what the proper reaction is when a huge coronal mass ejection blasts a magnetic bubble filled with energetic particles at me.

Re:clarification requested. (3, Informative)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115880)

Pretty much, just look at the pretty aurora. Worst case scenario is some satellite communications will be disrupted. The atmosphere provides more than adequate shielding against such things.

Re:clarification requested. (5, Funny)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116016)

sooo are you saying i should check out the sweet sunset that evening, or prepare for oblivion, or put on some sunscreen, or what? i beg your pardon, i'm just not sure what the proper reaction is when a huge coronal mass ejection blasts a magnetic bubble filled with energetic particles at me.

All organic life in the Northern Hemisphere is disintegrated at the subatomic level, Pacific Ocean boils away, Indian Ocean freezes solid, everybody in Uganda gets superpowers.

Re:clarification requested. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116260)

Well, looks like I'm moving to Uganda!

Re:clarification requested. (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116564)

"everybody in Uganda gets superpowers."
As usual... :/

Re:clarification requested. (0, Offtopic)

Dragoniz3r (992309) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116788)

No, the last time something of this magnitude happened, the Kenyans got the brunt of it. That's why they can run so fast. I'm interested to see what the future olympics hold for Uganda. Gold medals in long jump? Discus? Pingpong?

space station (1)

Cyko_01 (1092499) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115756)

I would laugh if it ricocheted off the ISS and missed earth entirely.

Re:space station (2, Informative)

nebaz (453974) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115964)

I would think that a coronal mass ejection hitting the ISS would be much like a tidal wave hitting a twig. It's the atmosphere that diverts the particles, which is what the auroras are. The ISS wouldn't do a whole lot if it were in the path.

Re:space station (5, Funny)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116230)

If this were a typical science fiction movie, they would have an astronaut deflect it using a mirror made from a candy wrapper and a tongue depressor. When that, surprisingly, fails, the radiation will strike the Earth, waking Godzilla, who will then proceed to destroy Japan. Since I don't live in Japan, I say let him have his fun.

Re:space station (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116692)

tongue depressor

Hmmm, what kind of news does an emo astronaut get that only depresses her tongue?
Is it too much to hope that the "New Moon" fad is over?

Re:space station (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116660)

Well, of course the ISS couldn't do it. It would take a Daedalus-class battlecruiser with ZPM enhanced shields flying right up to the source of the CME and deflecting it from there.

Re:space station (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116772)

That might work.

Am I the only one....? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115762)

Am I the only one who didn't read that as "Ejection" the first time around?

Had a picture of "2012 meets hardcore porn" there for a second...

I'm sure this will work (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115770)

If we can land on this coronal-flare and drill a hole into it. Carefully placing a nuke inside the hole, we can divert it so that both halves will miss the earth and everything will be OK.

Re:I'm sure this will work (1)

MysteriousPreacher (702266) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116656)

That's silly. The flare will hit us, so we should prepare on the assumption that the intense magnetic forces will stop the core from spinning. We need some kind of tunneling machine, a lot of nuclear bombs, and perhaps some attractive people to undertake a mission to blow the crap out of the core.

Free Aurora Alerts (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33115776)

If you want a warning when auroras are likely to be occuring without paying Spaceweather for alerts (so you can scurry outside and look), check out the NOAA's SWPC mailing lists [noaa.gov]. Go for the K-Index lists, and sign up for all those that apply for your location.

To figure out which minimum k-index results in visible aurora from your location, check out this helpful page [berkeley.edu]; just enter in your latitude and longitude, and it'll give you your "magnetic latitude"; match that up with a k-index using the table, and you know which mailing lists to sign up for.

If your phone does email, you can get the alerts anywhere; if your phone doesn't but your provider has an email-to-sms gateway, you could just forward emails for the same effect. :)

Re:Free Aurora Alerts (2, Informative)

sjs132 (631745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115904)

While your at it, if you don't know your latitude and longitude you can go to try http://www.travelmath.com/city/Toledo,+OH [travelmath.com]

Q: Does this make me a Karma whore?

Re:Free Aurora Alerts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116506)

Apparently, I'm in Toledo, Ohio.

Sorta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116990)

Only for /.ers from Toledo. The rest of us will just have to look elsewhere.

Irony (3, Interesting)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115806)

Wouldn't it be ironic if this solar flare knocks SOHO out of commission?

Re:Irony (2, Funny)

boneclinkz (1284458) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116046)

Wouldn't it be ironic if this solar flare knocks SOHO out of commission?

Only if it were to blow up a bus carrying the Phoenix Suns, on a Sunday.

Re:Irony (1)

jdgeorge (18767) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116194)

Yes, if the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) were knocked out of commission by a exactly the kind of phenomenon it is intended to observe, that would be ironic.

Re:Irony (1)

jd (1658) | more than 3 years ago | (#33117166)

Well, not significantly more so than Swift nearly getting blinded by a gamma ray burst, surely. And once something becomes routine, can it really be called ironic any more? (Hey, California considers three strikes ever to be good enough, this is two in the same year!)

Re:Irony (1)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116298)

Is this one of those flares that will knock the moon out of the Earth's orbit, along with the Lunar Colony, causing it to travel among the stars? Or is this the start of a Godzilla movie?

Re:Irony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116758)

Then there is always this guy, he has recorded movies of the sunspot in question (in hd for your viewing pleasure):
http://www.youtube.com/user/bosb33r#p/u

Solar flares (2, Funny)

sheph (955019) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115886)

So now when the network dies tomorrow it really will be solar flares. So much for my running joke.

Having RTFA (2, Informative)

CubicleView (910143) | more than 3 years ago | (#33115952)

I don't have a clue how common of an event this is supposed to be, but from the tone of the article I think tinfoil will offer sufficient protection from it. My guess would be that the real story is that the birth of this "solar storm" was recorded.

Re:Having RTFA (1)

PieSquared (867490) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116444)

The real story is that we had a solar minimum that was much longer then expected, so this is the first sun-related news we've had in years that wasn't "absolutely nothing is happening".

It's also about time to lay the groundwork for the "is the world going to end? Find out at 11!" stories that will run throughout 2012. At least one of the theories has the solar maximum playing some part and that doesn't work if people aren't aware that the sun shoots crap at us from time to time.

Re:Having RTFA (1)

cygnwolf (601176) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116578)

Thank you some sense from someone. The big news here is that they recorded the event and have evidence supporting the two events being linked. A C3 storm isn't going to do much more than make for some even nicer aurora than normal, though those of us at more reasonable latitudes are probably still not going to see anything.

Flights? (1)

CubeDude213 (678340) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116030)

So... if I’m flying from Houston to Frankfurt next week, should I be worried?

Re:Flights? (4, Funny)

jemtallon (1125407) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116372)

If a solar flare leaves the star Sol at 8:55am traveling at 540 miles/second and a plane takes off from Houston 9 days later, will the flight be affected by the solar flare?

No.

I KNEW IT!!! (1, Funny)

Anarchduke (1551707) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116052)

It's just like they teach us in the movies.

You make a black man president and space tries to kill us.

Re:I KNEW IT!!! (1)

somaTh (1154199) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116622)

I only know of one movie that uses a CME to kill us all, and, to my knowledge, Knowing never let you know who the president was.

Straight towards Earth? (2, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116104)

Do they mean it's traveling a straight line? Or do they mean it's is moving in such a way so as to collide with us when we come around to a certain point in space?

Re:Straight towards Earth? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116362)

I would guess it would be moving in nearly a straight line, after all the sun is the biggest gravity field in the vicinity and its moving away from that so its path won't be curved.

In fact the main effect of the suns gravity would be to slow it down. Bur the since its a Corona it might be accelerating still due to a stuck gas pedal.

Re:Straight towards Earth? (4, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116420)

It's traveling very fast (one day to get here) in pretty much a straight line. It is so much larger and faster than the Earth that orbital motion can be neglected. Link [wikipedia.org]

Re:Straight towards Earth? (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116650)

Considering a typical size of such thing and how fast this one will get here, there's not much of a difference between the two descriptions.

*Nig6a (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116296)

outreach 4rem Need to join the

Flash to display pictures (1)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116694)

For those extra special pictures, when JPEG just isn't enough.

Re:Flash to display pictures (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116768)

i hope this doesn't have "mutated" nutrinos that will microwave the center of the earth....

I just want to know what the aurorae forecast is (1)

efalk (935211) | more than 3 years ago | (#33116964)

How far south will they be visible? Haven't seen an aurora in a very long time.

Zombie Satellites? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33116998)

Didn't something like this create a zombie satellite a few months ago?

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