Coronal Mass Ejections [CME]

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 15, 2022, 9:21

The star that interests astronomers the most is the Sun. It sometimes emits powerful eruptions called Coronal Mass Ejections [CME], also known as solar flares. But when these eruptions hit the earth, they can cause a lot of damage. It is one of the major reasons why astronomers study the sun.

Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] - Definition

The sun frequently spews out powerful eruptions with the strength of 20 million nuclear bombs. This huge amount of energy is called coronal mass ejections (CME). These emissions shoot through the solar system at a million miles per hour.

CME can cause a lot of havoc on power grids and satellites. The primary composition of these ejections is plasma, along with a powerful magnetic field that originates from the corona of the sun.

Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] Causes

We still don't fully understand why coronal mass ejections (CME) occur. However, astrophysicists agree that they are caused by the sun's magnetic field. The sun is a fluid, always in a state of flux.

Sudden turbulence causes a twist in the sun's magnetic field, which disrupts it, releasing huge bursts of plasma (superheated gas). The plasma ejects into space in various directions.

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Effects of Coronal Mass Ejections [CME]

When plasma ejects from the sun, tons of materials are thrown into space at a million miles per hour. The regularity of coronal mass ejections (CME) is not uniform, but it can occur multiple times in a day to once in five days.

The effect of CME is a magnetic storm. If directed at the earth, it disrupts the magnetic field of the earth. It can result in a disturbance in communication systems, power transmission, and various electrical and electronic systems.

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History of Coronal Mass Ejections [CME]

The first recorded information about coronal mass ejections (CME) was in 1859, there was a huge magnetic storm. The effect of this storm was observed by astronomer R.C. Carrington and his colleague R. Hodgson. It subsequently came to be known as the "Carrington Event."

Later on, information was collected between 1953 and 1960. In the early 1970s, coronal mass ejections (CME) were observed at the Naval Research Laboratory in the United States.

In 1989 there was a huge CME that hit powerlines and shortwave radio. Six million Canadians suffered without electricity for nine hours following the collapse of the Hydro-Québec Power Grid.

Over the years, many studies have been done on CME, particularly since 2010. Today studies continue to try to understand better these emissions from the sun.

Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] Facts

A solar storm in 1989 exposed cosmonauts on the Mir Space Station to their year's quota of radiation in a few hours.

The most severe solar storm in history occurred in 1859. The auroras were so bright that people could read their newspapers at night in the illumination.

The energy ejected by the sun during coronal mass ejections (CME) moves at a million miles per hour. A jet could travel from Los Angeles to New York at that speed in 18 seconds! The energy bursts from them take just a few days to travel 93 million miles from the sun's surface to the earth.

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FAQs on Coronal Mass Ejections [CME]

Q.1. What are Coronal Mass Ejections [CME]?

Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] are bursts of plasma ejected from the sun.

Q.2. How regularly do Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] occur?

Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] occur multiple times a day to every five days.

Q.3. What is the most severe event caused by Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] in recorded history?

A huge magnetic storm that occurred in 1859 caused by Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] was the most severe event in recorded history.

Q.4. Why do Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] occur?

Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] occur due to disruptions in the sun's magnetic field.

Q.5. What is the main component of Coronal Mass Ejections [CME]?

The main component of Coronal Mass Ejections [CME] is superheated gas called plasma.