David Aguilar
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Christine Pulliam
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CfA Press Release Images
 Release No.: 03-15: State-Of-The-Art Solar Model Fits Massive 2002 Eruption
For Release: June 26, 2003

coronal mass ejectionAlthough it may resemble a peacock feather, the expanding teardrop shapeinthis animation actually represents an explosive solar eruption known asacoronal mass ejection (CME). This simulation shows that the CME reachesitsultimate speed, a shock front is formed and the direction of the CME'smagnetic field is established a few solar radii above the surface of theSun. The speed of the CME determines the strength of the pulse thatstrikesthe Earth's magnetosphere. The shock front produces energetic particlesthatinteract with the upper atmosphere and satellites. The interactionbetweenthe CME magnetic field and the Earth's magnetic field produces energeticparticles and voltage surges in electrical equipment. Observations of anApril 21, 2002 CME by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory'sUltraViolet Coronagraph Spectrometer on the SOHO satellite support theCMEmodel (developed by Jun Lin of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center forAstrophysics and Terry G. Forbes of the University of New Hampshire) usedtocreate this simulation.Credit: Jun Lin (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and TerryG.Forbes (University of New Hampshire)


solar eruption This image from the Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) satellite shows a November 8, 2000 solar eruption very similar to the April 21, 2002 eruption modeled in the above animation. Taken at a wavelength of 171 Angstroms, the image shows a solar flare with gas at a temperature of one million degrees. The flare was associated with a coronal mass ejection that struck the Earth 31 hours later, sparking a strong geomagnetic storm. Credit: TRACE program. The Transition Region and Coronal Explorer (TRACE) is a mission of the Stanford-Lockheed Institute for Space Research, and part of the NASA Small Explorer program.

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