Active region 1163-1164 kept the show going this morning, February 27 2011, with a large coronal mass ejection (CME) that erupted at around 4:30am EST from the Sun’s western limb. The animation above was made from ten high-resolution images taken by the Solar Dynamics Observatory, and shows this particular flare in action. (Click the image for a larger version of the animation.)
The small circle at upper left is the proportional size of Earth.
Coronal mass ejections are huge bubbles of gas bounded by magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several minutes or even hours. If they are directed toward Earth, the cloud of charged solar particles can interact with our magnetosphere and cause anything from increased auroral activity to radio interference to failure of sensitive electromagnetic equipment.
As this active region rotates towards Earth over the next few days we may come under fire from solar flares aimed our way…or not. Really no way to predict such things until we see them happen, in which case we have a day or so before the ejected particle cloud crosses the 93 million miles between the Sun and Earth.
This same region produced a large flare just a couple of days ago…view an animation of that here.
Image: Courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams. Animation by J. Major.