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NASA Records Solar Blast of Epic Proportions

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-burnt-my-fingers dept.

Space 123

Arvisp writes "As predicted, the a 'mega-filament' of solar magnetism erupted on Dec. 6th, producing a blast of epic proportions. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action as the 700,000-km long structure lifted off the stellar surface and--snap!!--hurled itself into space. The eruption produced a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) observed by the STEREO-A spacecraft: video. Earth was not in the line of fire; the cloud should sail wide of our planet. Earth-effects might be limited to pretty pictures."

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Sunfart (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480218)

n/c

Re:Sunfart (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480290)

Sun says, "Oh, SNAP!"

Re:Sunfart (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34485966)

The sun's on food stamps [usda.gov] now?

Did its face turn red after it farted? Must be the cheap food you get from the SNAP program.

Re:Sunfart (1)

dmbasso (1052166) | more than 3 years ago | (#34482186)

What a fart! Appreciate it in better detail:
mplayer ahead_20101206_cor2_512.mpg -loop 0 -fps 5

Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480244)

Do CME's often have a direct, measurable effect on weather, etc. on Earth?

Re:Interesting... (3, Funny)

u17 (1730558) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480280)

Yes, and the most descriptive metrics measure the effect of CMEs in terms of the number of comments in articles posted about them on the Internet. Let's see how big this one can get.

Re:Interesting... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480468)

We'll find out in 3.5 years when an article in Wired describing the failure of the power grid due to transformer saturation later this week asks why nothing was done to prevent such saturation after the last N such events.

Re:Interesting... (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480596)

Yes, and the most descriptive metrics measure the effect of CMEs in terms of the number of comments in articles posted about them on the Internet. Let's see how big this one can get.

Well if you had 0 articles posted, it may imply you've destroyed all Internet communications. That would be pretty big. ;-)

Re:Interesting... (2)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480304)

That depends on how close they come. If they come close, they have a direct, measurable effect on all sorts of things, like power lines, which are essentially giant antenna. CMEs in the past have caused massive blackouts.

Re:Interesting... (3, Interesting)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481052)

if they hit, as much as they hit, they have a huge effect on magnetosphere. and also can cause failures in electrical, electronical equipment.

it is also possible that by presurizing earth's magnetic field, they are affecting all creatures on the planet. (Since all gets affected by the magnetism). shrinking magnetic field also means more cosmic rays coming in, i presume.

energy of the blast, its emissions, may increase heating of the planet, i presume. but i dont remember it well.

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34481278)

it is also possible that by presurizing earth's magnetic field, they are affecting all creatures on the planet. (Since all gets affected by the magnetism). shrinking magnetic field also means more cosmic rays coming in, i presume.

energy of the blast, its emissions, may increase heating of the planet, i presume. but i dont remember it well.

In other words, you're just making shit up. Kind of like the rest of your posts on any subject.

oooh (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481680)

In other words, you're just making shit up. Kind of like the rest of your posts on any subject.

hello, cowardly conservative. great to see that you are participating, well, anonymous.

lets say all of my views and information is made up. i still have much more spine than you, since i have the guts to actually voice it myself, instead of posting anonymous like spineless cowards.

Re:oooh (2)

vertinox (846076) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481902)

lets say all of my views and information is made up. i still have much more spine than you, since i have the guts to actually voice it myself, instead of posting anonymous like spineless cowards.

Maybe he was too lazy to log on or trust the terminal he was on?

Also, its not that hard to just make up throw away account. So simply posting as anon doesn't invalidate the poster.

Of course he didn't have a valid point but it had nothing to whether or not he logged on.

Re:oooh (0)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481978)

Maybe he was too lazy to log on or trust the terminal he was on?

from my experience with making remarks that can annoy zealots/conservatives/extremists, i kinda know that whenever someone posts a comment like that, they are generally one of them. subjective of course ...

Re:oooh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34485012)

Maybe he was too lazy to log on or trust the terminal he was on?

from my experience with making remarks that can annoy zealots/conservatives/extremists, i kinda know that whenever someone posts a comment like that, they are generally one of them. subjective of course ...

Well I don't know why that guy posts AC, but I'll tell you why I do.

It's because comments like this get a +4 Insightful:

it is also possible that by presurizing earth's magnetic field, they are affecting all creatures on the planet. (Since all gets affected by the magnetism). shrinking magnetic field also means more cosmic rays coming in, i presume.

Pressurizing the magnetic field? Pressurizing the magnetic field? Since when, exactly, are magnetic fields subject to pressure?
And this is a discussion of solar wind, not cosmic rays, which won't make it through the atmosphere.

The magnetic field does not stop solar particles, it deflects them to the magnetic poles. The more intense the storm, or weaker the field, the less the amount of deflection... thus the aurora (due to the charged particles hitting the atmosphere) is visible farther south (or north if you're in the southern hemisphere).

Re:Interesting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34484984)

if they hit, as much as they hit, they have a huge effect on magnetosphere. and also can cause failures in electrical, electronical equipment.

True...

it is also possible that by presurizing earth's magnetic field, they are affecting all creatures on the planet. (Since all gets affected by the magnetism). shrinking magnetic field also means more cosmic rays coming in, i presume.

Whaaaaaaaaa?????

energy of the blast, its emissions, may increase heating of the planet, i presume. but i dont remember it well.

I also often have trouble remembering events which have not yet occurred.

Re:Interesting... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34486222)

TFA says that it didn't come this way. Lucky us!

Detecting CMEs Aimed Directly @ Earth (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480252)

Have the detection systems advanced to where NASA and the sun watchers can detect CMEs when they are not on the limb of the sun, but bursting directly at Earth?

I know a satellite is supposed to go up to help with that at some point, but can they detect them ahead of time now?

Re:Detecting CMEs Aimed Directly @ Earth (3, Interesting)

nametaken (610866) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480286)

I just read somewhere that these filament bursts contain cooler plasma, so they show as dark areas when observing the sun.

Re:Detecting CMEs Aimed Directly @ Earth (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480520)

Yes, STEREO currently is out at L4 and L5 and so can see CME's pointed towards earth however they are not in a stable orbit there so that ability will be lost for a bit during 2015 when their orbits put them on the far side of the sun.

Re:Detecting CMEs Aimed Directly @ Earth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34481054)

In space, no one can hear your STEREO

Hello CmdrTaco.. Helloo anybody home? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480292)

", the a 'mega-filament'.."

pick one, the or a, but not both.

or did you fail to mention the b 'mega filament'..

Re:Hello CmdrTaco.. Helloo anybody home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480322)

", the a 'mega-filament'.."

pick one, the or a, but not both.

or did you fail to mention the b 'mega filament'..

Yes, but it is only a concern for the "b" ark.

Re:Hello CmdrTaco.. Helloo anybody home? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34482088)

Maybe a Kennedy typed the summary.

Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (2)

Orga (1720130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480320)

I'm not up on these sorts of things, it does look quite spectacular though. Does anyone know what kind of effects we might have seen on Earth if this had been directly towards us?

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480340)

I'm not up on these sorts of things, it does look quite spectacular though. Does anyone know what kind of effects we might have seen on Earth if this had been directly towards us?

We wouldn't be seeing much of anything if this had been coming straight for us.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (-1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480362)

I realized that might be misleading. What I mean is, we'd be dead, before we'd really know it was coming, not that it would be "un-noticable".

We're working on a system to detect them earlier so that we might have some chance of survival deep underground but... basically consider yourself lucky once again!

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (5, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480490)

Not really. The magnetosphere protects us from most of it. It makes some radio noise, brighter aurorae at the poles, and a lot of hoo-ha on the tee-vee.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480544)

Perhaps I'm mixing up my solar activities, flares and CME's and whatever elses.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480560)

Wake me up when I can see the Aurora from here in Bristol, UK (51 degrees north). I don't really want to have to go to the Arctic circle to freeze... Wait a minute - it's cold here too. :(

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480742)

You should be able to see big ones from 50N.

This event won't produce one, though. It won't hit Earth.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (2)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481866)

You want to know the difference between Northerners and Southerners?

Northerners don't start complaining until the snow is higher than their wellies.

Thanks, I'm here all night.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480834)

Oh! Oh! I wanna see hoo-has on the TV!!! What channel are they on?

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481044)

Oh! Oh! I wanna see hoo-has on the TV!!! What channel are they on?

The Playboy Channel.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (2)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34482166)

Italian broadcast after 11pm.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480536)

Huh.
How dead? Like, everyone day-side gets cancer, or the lithosphere gets scrapped off?

Now, for a comet or meteroid, we could theoretically nudge it out of our path with a nuke,
if we got lucky enough to see it beforehand,
and the rocket scientists with the slide rulers didn't botch the deep-space billiards,
but is there anything at all we could do to survive this?

Even, say, with 50 years warning and mankind's unified effort?

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480672)

move.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (2)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 3 years ago | (#34483108)

It would completely depend on the details. I think the event in question would have to be more significant than what we are witnessing, but I'm no expert...

Here are some theories for different scenarios I have heard arranged by suspected insanity of source (sane -> unsane -> insane):

1) Seemingly Sane - Particle bombardment from flare event causes irregular sterilization pattern near areas beneath weak magnetic field (they wander a bit, so google is your friend for locating).

Incidence of high exposure elsewhere, but likely not everywhere due to convergence of factors. Massive infrastructure disruption in orbit. Lesser infrastructure destruction on the ground. What happens to planes aloft near the weak zones? Don't know.

If exposure is high enough the impact on phytoplankton living in the upper reaches of the photic zone causes runaway reactions in oceanic chemistry. This would be very very bad as these organisms are estimated at half of the daily terrestrial oxygen production. Combine this with out-gassing of necrotic fumes and you have a threat of poison stinking clouds.

2) Unsane - Massive deformation of the Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere results in large quantities of gas achieving escape conditions. This happens naturally over time, I have no idea if a magnetic field deformation could actually cause a sudden catastrophic event, though.

I was also told HAARP was designed to deform the upper atmosphere to 'deflect' events like this and ballistic missiles. Which gives me pretty good confidence the my source didn't have the science behind the theory either.

3) Insane - The intense pressures and energies involved at the center of the earth generate a particle trapping anomaly. It becomes a unstable if you overcharge it with hard particles. We are only alive on earth because the core is in a cool enough and stable enough state. Solar particles will kill us all, and this is actually an alien test to see if we are smart enough to save ourselves in time.

I'm sticking with option 3, but all those science types would probably go with option 1 ;)

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (2)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34484688)

Nothing. Really. Even a really big CME will have an effect on the electrical grid and perhaps some local communication loops. But most will trip overloads and be able to be reset in short order (hours). The odd hard to replace transformer may pop and cause more serious disruptions. But we are talking about no electricity in restricted areas for a few days sort of thing.

Some people watch too many movies or read too much 2012 crap.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (4, Informative)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480978)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 [wikipedia.org]

No, we'd probably have enough warning to get some looting and pillaging in, even if the event was cataclysmic. Light takes about 8 minutes to get from the sun to earth. Plasma, not being quite as fast, takes slightly longer.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (4, Informative)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481400)

Inconstant Moon [wikipedia.org]

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

Tobias Lobster (169833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34484802)

Inconstant Moon [wikipedia.org]

Inconstant Moon was mentioned on here a few months ago so I picked up a copy from Amazon. It's one of the best things I've read this year.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 3 years ago | (#34483492)

No, we'd probably have enough warning to get some looting and pillaging in, even if the event was cataclysmic.

Now that is the good news I was after.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481778)

Nahh, the people on the dark side in bunkers would have survived. I highly doubt it would have completely exterminated all life on the planet.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (4, Funny)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480354)

I'm not up on these sorts of things, it does look quite spectacular though. Does anyone know what kind of effects we might have seen on Earth if this had been directly towards us?

Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes...
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480482)

Yeah, but now tell him about the twinkie.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

sharkey (16670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481602)

That sounds like it would be bad.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (2, Funny)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480454)

We're all dead from the last CME. This is a very elaborate dream-like state you're having just like in Brainstorm when they recorded that dead brain on the optical tape machine thing. Just go into the light... we can't keep this hallucination going for much longer.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480762)

Man-made global warming would happen...and we would all be taxed to death.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1)

IndigoDarkwolf (752210) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480956)

Realistically, it would have probably taken out a lot of satellites, and utilities would likely have needed to turn off power in order to preserve transformers. Discovery Channel had an interesting series "Perfect Storms" that covered a mega-sized CME hitting Earth.

Re:Had this been pointed at Earth? What then.. (1, Funny)

rtyhurst (460717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34483216)

Had this been pointed at Earth, cockroaches would now be the dominant species.

The fact that pictures of Paris Hilton's poontang are freely available on the interwebs means for sure these are the End Times.

I'm sure The Creator is just having a few practise shots before loading up The Rapture Cannon...

Scale (5, Interesting)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480336)

For scale, 700,000km is half the diameter of the Sun.

-Peter

Re:Scale (5, Funny)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480414)

For scale, half the diameter of the Sun is a radius of the Sun.

Re:Scale (0)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480518)

For scale, this was approx. one quarter (or one fourth or 1/4) of the circumference of the sun

Re:Scale (-1, Troll)

skywatcher2501 (1608209) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480584)

For scale, yo mamma makes it look like a firefly in comparison.

Re:Scale (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480624)

i think it would be closer to 1/6 (or one sixth) of the circumference of the sun.

Volkswagens? (1)

MarcQuadra (129430) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480630)

How many Volkswagens is that?

Re:Volkswagens? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34481130)

Beetles or Rabbits?

Re:Volkswagens? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481936)

About 4.

Re:Volkswagens? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34485510)

How many Volkswagens is that?

Well, the VW Golf Mk6 is 4.2m long, so... 166,666,666.

Re:Scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34481294)

For scale, half the diameter of the Sun is a radius of the Sun.

What's that in Libraries of Congress?

Re:Scale (1)

NanoGeek (1951202) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481384)

Yes, but we must know. How many Libraries of Congress is that?

Re:Scale (1)

bhiestand (157373) | more than 3 years ago | (#34483320)

You have to do some dimensional analysis.

LOCs are a unit of storage space, and storage space can also be measured on slashdot by vans filled with tape backups traveling down the highway. From there, it's not hard to get to your standard units of furlongs, fortnights, and parsecs.

Re:Scale (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34484832)

Better scale I read was the Earth is about 5 pixels across in that picture....

Re:Scale (1)

init-five (745157) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481326)

how about in football fields or libraries of congress?

Re:Scale (1)

Centurix (249778) | more than 3 years ago | (#34482012)

What's that in Hogsheads per fortnight?

Re:Scale (1)

bar-agent (698856) | more than 3 years ago | (#34484404)

I don't know how big the plasma cloud left over from this flare is, but as for the flare itself, 700 000 km is 0.004 AUs, so it was nowhere near Earth's orbit.

Article is very light on information... (2, Interesting)

TWX (665546) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480342)

...and it would be nice to know how strong such a solar flare would be by the time it reaches the ~150,000,000 kilometers distance that the Earth is from the Sun, and what kind of ramifications such a flare could have, now that we've actually seen one for real. I'm not looking for the gloom and doom worst-case type stuff either, rather I'd like to know the range of effects, including human-eye-observable effects, that such a discharge could have...

Re:Article is very light on information... (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480768)

Geomagnetic storm. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Article is very light on information... (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480784)

As I understand it, smaller CMEs happen periodically. They can cause blackouts, satellite problems, and increased radiation risk to astronauts and air fliers, but otherwise they're a nonevent. Mostly just brighter aurorae. A big one could really wreck the power grid, but that's probably the extent of the impact as far as most people are concerned. At least that's the current thinking.

Re:Article is very light on information... (5, Informative)

natehoy (1608657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480796)

These things aren't mysteries, even to many laypeople. Of course, I'm a private pilot, so the potential interference to radio communications, GPS, etc maybe makes me a little more aware of it than most, but it's not like this is a new phenomenon or something we've just now discovered thanks to modern science. Humanity knew about these before the 1800's, and their effects on electrical devices were pretty clearly demonstrated by Mother Nature since at least 1859 (the Carrington Event, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 [wikipedia.org] ).

We've been hit by CMEs in the past, and their effects are pretty well understood. The potential impacts of this are real, and very inconvenient, in that they can knock out power grids with relative ease ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/March_1989_geomagnetic_storm [wikipedia.org] ). We haven't had a strong hit since the cellular telephone was invented in 1989, so we have little experience with the really strong ones and modern electronics, but frying a few million computers and smartphones would (if not fatal) have some pretty nasty economic consequences for the owners of same.

The only level of lethality would be if you are somehow dependent on electricity, or the possible introduction of electricity into places you weren't expecting it. So, for example, if you hear about a strong geomagnetic event, it's probably not a good idea to go out and lean on any local ungrounded aluminum-sided house or any very large piece of ungrounded conductive material. You might become the grounding strap. That could be bad. Think of it as a lightning event, except it's smaller lightning but appears everywhere, even inside things.

Upside: While it's dark at night what with all the lack of power and your neighbors not burning their 10,000 watt back yard lights all night, you'll see the coolest aurora display ever if you live far enough north (and that could be as far south as Texas with a strong event). "Aurora Borealis, shinin' down in Dallas, can you picture that?"

We know it damages things as crude as telegraph machines, including setting the paper in them on fire from sparks, because it has. CMEs can impart energy into metal, and the electrical network is a huge freaking CME antenna, so in a strong storm expect at least temporary loss of power, and longer if there's enough strength to overload transformers and the like.

The CME can either cancel out the existing electricity in the power grid, or it can add to it, depending on polarity. A modestly strong CME impact can actually impart electricity into unshielded electronics and fry them where they sit due to nothing more sophisticated than voltage overload, even if they are not plugged in (this is known as "geomagnetically-induced current").

A little light reading for when you get curious.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_storm#Historical_occurrences [wikipedia.org]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geomagnetic_storm [wikipedia.org]

Re:Article is very light on information... (3, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481260)

...so we have little experience with the really strong ones and modern electronics, but frying a few million computers and smartphones would (if not fatal) have some pretty nasty economic consequences for the owners of same.

We don't need such experience. We have physics, which tells us that even extremely severe geomagnetic storms won't affect such devices at all.

Re:Article is very light on information... (3, Funny)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481750)

We don't need such experience. We have physics

One of the funniest things ever said on Slashdot. Congratulations!

Re:Article is very light on information... (2)

MokuMokuRyoushi (1701196) | more than 3 years ago | (#34482966)

Interestingly, as I read your comment, I pictured a gnarled old farmer being lectured by a sharp-nosed scholar, fresh from the city, as to how to run his farm. The farmer seems to be torn between laughing uproariously and walking away with a disbelieving shake of his head.

Re:Article is very light on information... (3, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#34484936)

I really don't know where you get your "intel", but for the most part your very mislead into the effects.

CME and flares have 3 main effects.

In space the plasma(high energy charged particles) is effectively a very high dose of radiation to satellites. This can cause temporary, or even in extreme cases, permanent failure. The radiation damages microelectronics, and cause little currents that cause parasitic transistors to "latch on".

The radiation also affects the ionosphere. This can have a dramatic effect on radio wave propagation through and off this layer of the atmosphere and will strongly affect communications that depend on this layer. It can in fact improve performance of some long wave bands.

Finally we come to the fact that the CME is a plasma and has a magnetic field with it. This pushes the earths magnetic field and can cause induction effects on earth surface. This is the only thing that affects terrestrial equipment. The radiation does not penetrate the ~10 metric tons of atmosphere per m^2. However the shifting magnetic field could lead to locally higher levels of background radiation, this would be more prevalent around the poles where its higher anyway. Also note that much of the little stuff blamed on the 1989 event is dubious. Even the wiki citation about "microchips" leads to a story where 3 hard drives failed (This happened to our raid system last year, we didn't blame CME).

The earth magnetic field is quite weak so the induction only affects very large "loops", like a telegram network or a electrical grid. Small "loops" like microelectronics, Aluminum buildings, ungrounded "metal" etc don't notice anything. It is nothing like lightning. Long range communications is now done with fiber for the most part, so the "large loops" are only city wide now days, and are unlikely to be badly affected. But electrical grids are somewhat susceptible, there are massive loops 100 even 1000 of km across. The voltage induced is still quite low, but this can still produce a very large current. This current is typically DC compared to the normal AC load power. This can have a detrimental effect on transformers by pushing the magnetic core into saturation. This typically disrupts wave forms and causes a "short circuit" and breakers should trip in at that point without serious damage being done. This was the case for march 1998 event, power was restored within 9 hours. However one large transformer was damaged. But this kind of redundancy is built into most grids and this did not seriously affect electrical supply in Canada outside the immediate affects.

Just to get a feel for the kind of "volts" we are talking about. Even if the full magnetic flux "swing" at the north pole (about 60uT/m2) in 1sec will induce just 18mV on a 10m radius *wire* loop. In practice this is very unrealistic and true swings is orders of magnitude less. From your links a swing of only 1.6uT for the 1859 event or 37 times less and over longer time intervals, ie a loop need to have an area of 625000m2 to induce 1V if that swing takes 1 sec (typically it takes *much* longer). Note you can't "ground" this emf, this is not how induction works, so you can't be a grounding strap it you touch the loop.

One possible side-effect (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480854)

Snooki gets a darker tan...

strange brew that's also good for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480348)

That would be home made Kombucha.

Is this enough mass to form a new planet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480412)

Cool! Oh, wait...

To Paraphrase Dr. Manhattan (2, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480434)

Wikileaks founder arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, United States and many other countries partake in secret, scandalous dealings outside of the public view, the DOJ cracks down on piracy sites thus paving the way for internet censorship, the space shuttle launch delays another month, slashdotters begin to buy tinfoil hats by the case as human society faces major upheavals....

"And the universe does not even notice...."

Re:To Paraphrase Dr. Manhattan (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480610)

You mean Blizzard didn't cause the flare as part of the Catalysm launch?

Re:To Paraphrase Dr. Manhattan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480644)

Posting on the wrong story takes some serious fail. Or maybe it's just a covert fail.

Re:To Paraphrase Dr. Manhattan (2)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481038)

First off, this is /., posting on the wrong story is expected at least once in every article.

Second, this was not posted on the wrong story. Translation: "We're fucking ourselves up, universe continues normal course." That better?

Re:To Paraphrase Dr. Manhattan (1)

imrec (461877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481164)

Ugh, no kidding. I actually felt kind of sick watching the animation. The heat and pressure happening there... Man, so small. We are sooooo small... all of humanity's trials, triumphs, defeats, accomplishments... Not even a cosmic blip.

I recall Neil Tyson [wikipedia.org] making a remark to the effect of how it's difficult to consider the idea of a benevolent deity/god/whatever when the universe is trying so, so badly to kill us. We have such little business existing at all.

Well... back to watching Jackass.

Re:To Paraphrase Dr. Manhattan (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 3 years ago | (#34483532)

Wikileaks founder arrested on suspicion of sexual assault, United States and many other countries partake in secret, scandalous dealings outside of the public view, the DOJ cracks down on piracy sites thus paving the way for internet censorship, the space shuttle launch delays another month, slashdotters begin to buy tinfoil hats by the case as human society faces major upheavals.... "And the universe does not even notice...."

You might want to ground that tinfoil hat in the event of a CME impacting the earths magnetosphere... because tinfoil will become an antenna and you an earthed conductor.

lame (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480492)

Call me when one hits the Earth directly and rips off half of our atmosphere.

Blast of epic proportions (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34480494)

This happened to me last night at Taco Bell.

Earth was not in the line of fire... (1)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480878)

... the cloud should sail wide of our planet.

Damn! There goes my chance for super powers.

Cataclysm (1)

Kazymyr (190114) | more than 3 years ago | (#34480976)

Now we know what happened to Azeroth...

Copypasta (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34481408)

Come on, editors, submitter - the abstract is directly copied from the source website - so much so that the words that form a link to the video there is in it, but the link itself hasn't been copied across. This is pathetic - try just a LITTLE next time!

Whoa... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34481448)

That's a big... fire stick.

Desvastation if we were in it's path (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34481524)

Whew! That was a close one. From what I've seen on various programs about coronal mass ejections of this magnitude, if the Earth was in the path of a large one like this the world would be sent back to the pre-electricy era for a few months. Most electrical grid transformers would be fried beyond repair.

Re:Desvastation if we were in it's path (4, Informative)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 3 years ago | (#34482148)

Except we have a lead time and electricity providers who are very interested in not losing their expensive transformers. The space agencies provide space weather warnings including CME warnings. If a very large CME is inbound most of the affected transformers are going to be disconnected.

Plus, with CMEs on the scale we have seen so far, large-scale generator damage would only occur in certain areas, not worldwide, allowing functioning generators to be imported to rebuild at least part of the network in much less than several months.

Note that the last severe geomagnetic storm that caused a lot of damage... cut off six million people in North America for about nine hours.

Predicted ? (2)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34481542)

"As predicted" ? I thought we were lacking a model to predict this kind of eruptions ?

EPIC PROPORTIONS? (1)

scarface71795 (1920250) | more than 3 years ago | (#34482078)

Every time i hear that all i can think of is that fucking bed commercial

looks like a CD (1)

droidsURlooking4 (1543007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34483882)

I just Disc Doctored

Looks like the sun got shot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34484784)

Ok, so there's a bit of activity all around, but the top-right of the picture has a mini emission bubble thingo, and then "boom" out the opposite side. Reminds me a lot of the slow motion videos of bullets going through things.

Of course, then the rest of the slow-mo video shows the object slowly disintegrating, so I'm not saying I reckon that's what happened... unless they aren't telling us something. *tinfoil hat*

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