Monday, June 11, 2012

Solar Storms: Part 2

Solar Storms are also known as Coronal Mass Ejections, or CMEs, according to the previous article. Coronal Mass Ejections are actually “huge bubbles of gas threaded with magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours” (Hathaway, 2007). They have been seen during eclipses for several minutes but can occur without an eclipse. Sunspot Cycles determine when coronal mass ejections will occur (Hathaway, 2007). They can occur from 2-3 times a day to once a week (Hathaway, 2007).
          Coronal Mass Ejections were recently discovered with 1971 and 1973 being the earliest observations of it; it was observed by a coronagraph (Hathaway, 2007). Many Coronal Mass Ejections have been seen in the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory by the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph (Hathaway, 2007). Coronagraphs put a disk over the sun to create a fake eclipse for scientists to try to locate any changes in the sun’s coronal features (Hathaway, 2007). It is visible above the brightness of the sky, but only the innermost corona. The rest is visible from space continuously. (Hathaway, 2007).
Coronal Mass Ejections can cause catastrophes on Earth, just like Solar Storms. When Coronal Mass Ejections are going toward Earth they create a “Halo” event where the sun is surrounded by the coronal mass ejection (Hathaway, 2007).  Sometimes they even look like they are the sun if they get big enough.
           

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