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Space NASA Science

Solar Eruption To Reach Earth Soon 159

Posted by Soulskill
from the everybody-duck dept.
rastos1 writes "Spacecraft from NASA recently observed an eruption on the Sun sending billions of tons of particles toward Earth. The solar eruption, called a coronal mass ejection, occurred Tuesday at 1:24 a.m. EDT (0524 GMT) and sent charged particles streaking outward at 380 miles per second. That's just over 1.3 million mph (2.2 million km/h). The solar fallout from the sun storm is expected to reach Earth over the next few days. Interestingly, an unnamed icy comet from the outer solar system dove into the sun and disintegrated nearly a the same time (video)."
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Solar Eruption To Reach Earth Soon

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  • NBD, it seems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) <afaciniNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:22AM (#44654423)

    "These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground," NASA officials explained in a statement. [Solar Max Photos: Sun Storms of 2013]

    Wednesday's solar storm erupted just 21 hours after another powerful coronal mass ejection (NASA calls them CMEs) on Tuesday (Aug. 20). That solar tempest also sent billions of tons of solar particles on their way to Earth.

    So maybe if you have satellite TV you'll see a few spotty moments, but nothing to worry about.

    • Re:NBD, it seems (Score:5, Interesting)

      by epiphani (254981) <epiphani@nospAM.dal.net> on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:27AM (#44654523)

      Yeah, I can't understand why this is news. I've seen it on two sites now.

      This wasn't even an M-class flare, and the CME is only expected to push planetary Kp to 4. As in this doesn't even register as a geomagnetic storm. See this page for an explanation of Kp [noaa.gov] and you can also see this page [noaa.gov] for the predicted impact.

      Somehow some idiot picked up on this, and this news is making the rounds. I've seen a lot of people confused by the coverage - this is a bloody whisper in the solar flare world.

      • Re:NBD, it seems (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ghjnut (1843450) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:22AM (#44655397)
        It's good to see stuff like this hit the front page. It helps space out the onslaught of disappointing stories slashdot breaks regarding the incompetence/malice of leadership in this country. Seeing a cruising ice comet hit the sun with a CME following is pretty damn cool too.
      • by freeze128 (544774)
        What concerns me is that this was learned about on Tuesday, and it's just getting any kind of media traction today on FRIDAY. If this were a serious event, that wouldn't be enough time to do much. This has been a test of NASA's emergency broadcast system.... And it has failed miserably. If this had been an actual emergency, we would all be dead by now.
        • by MickLinux (579158)

          Note that the CME is no worse than the two streams of solar wind that the Earth passes through regularly. The plasma density is extremely low: that is one comet's mass of CME spread out over 4*Pi*(1 AU)^2. In area, and a significant fraction of an ÃU in thickness.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Yeah, I can't understand why this is news. I've seen it on two sites now.

        If it's likely to cause aurora in locations that don't usually get aurora, it's definitely news.

        • by epiphani (254981)

          Yeah, I can't understand why this is news. I've seen it on two sites now.

          If it's likely to cause aurora in locations that don't usually get aurora, it's definitely news.

          No. No it's not. On both your points. No.

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          If it's likely to cause aurora in locations that don't usually get aurora, it's definitely news.

          That argument only holds if they post the news the day it happens, not after the event...

          (which they always do)

          • by mikael (484)

            And if it disrupts the ionosphere, and we get radio stations that we don't normally receive, that's definitely news .. or pop music, talk radio or jazz...

      • by uberjack (1311219)

        This wasn't even an M-class flare, ...

        Maybe not, but it is approaching a class-M planet.

      • A comet hitting the sun is pretty awesome, I don't care how often it happens.

        It's breathtaking to watch and beats 99.9% of "real news" any day.

        I wish we had more mainstream news like this. It might cause people reflect more on all the petty crap that gets them down. "Wah, I lost my keys...wait, at least I didn't get smoked by a frickin' ice comet!"

      • by rastos1 (601318)
        I've submitted the story. I'm so sorry I could not deliver a more newsworthy eruption. I'll do my best next time to at last bring the GPS satellites down.
      • by jovius (974690)

        So true. Another way media reacts is a day later, when the headlines call people to see auroras tonight (which happened last night). Anyway, here's cool data 3D data and predictions about the solar wind by NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center: Solar Wind Prediction [noaa.gov]. When solar wind really hits the speed can be over 1000 km/s, which probably will not happen because the maximum at hand is weak anyway.

      • Yeah, I can't understand why this is news.

        Doesn't it become news when images of the event are set to some epic, apocalyptic sounding musical score as heard in the youtube link?

        ... tongue firmly in cheek.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stevegee58 (1179505)
      Yes, but it provides a distraction for the public from the collapsing economy and rampant domestic NSA surveillance.
      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Yes, but it provides a distraction for the public from the collapsing economy and rampant domestic NSA surveillance.

        [Cheek = Insert Tongue]

        WHAT?

        NSA is watching me? Oh the Horror!

        [/Cheek = Insert Tongue]

        I think you have a point...

      • Re:NBD, it seems (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jellomizer (103300) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:55AM (#44654963)

        Chill dude. Stop get off the news channels for a bit. Go out get a job, volunteer.
        Bitching on the internet, and trying to twist every new article into being relevant to your particular we are doomed senserio. Isn't going to help anyone, and it just makes you feel bad.

        If the worlds going to end. Might as well go out and enjoy yourself.

        • by Immerman (2627577)

          What does the NSA have to do with the end of the world? We now have government confirmation that they are operating a secret domestic surveillance program that would make the Gestapo jizz their pants, and that sort of power *will* eventually be abused horribly, if it hasn't already. And that the secret court providing oversight has deemed it unconstitutional and been ignored. Not end-of-the-world shit, but something that every US citizen should be outraged over, and trying everything they can think of to

        • Chill dude....Go out get a job, volunteer... Might as well go out and enjoy yourself.

          Warning: incompatible advice detected.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Also, you may be able to see the aurora much closer to the equator than normal, which is kinda nifty.

      • by Joce640k (829181)

        Would have been even niftier if they told us last Tuesday so we could travel North a bit...

    • So, no marshmellows to put out on this flare?
    • Tell that to the telegraph operators with burned hands from a big CME back in the 1800s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 [wikipedia.org]
      • by tlhIngan (30335)

        Tell that to the telegraph operators with burned hands from a big CME back in the 1800s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_storm_of_1859 [wikipedia.org]

        Or, more recently the residents of Quebec, Canada, in 1989 [wikipedia.org] where the power grid was disrupted due magnetic induction caused by the solar storm (the store interacts with Earth's magnetic field, the varying magnetic field then induces currents into the long transmission lines).

        Given today's society is even MORE dependent on the power grid and even MORE dependent on satellit

        • by mikael (484)

          People in the UK started hearing radio stations from the other side of the North Sea. And the aurora that night were awesome - bands of green light would travel across the sky and in the point opposite the Sun was a reddish-green + shaped spot.

      • I might actually care if this was a couple of orders of magnitude closer in power to that one. For me all this means is that if the sky stays clear I might be able to drive out a ways into the country and show my oldest the aurora since that might be a big deal for him at age 5. The biggest issue is the amount of light pollution in my area.
      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Yes, a large CME is something to be worried about, and it's only a matter of time before another one hits us.

        But just because massive wildfires are dangerous doesn't mean that a candle being lit is a news story. The current CME will make for a slightly larger and brighter Aurora than normally visible, that's it. Nothing newsworthy unless you live in one of the few areas effected.

  • sent charged particles streaking outward at 380 miles per second. That's just over 1.3 million mph (2.2 million km/h).

    Could you give that in manhattans^(1/2) per dog year, too?

  • by ACK!! (10229) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:29AM (#44654555) Journal
    The whole icy comet diving into the sun and the bad ass far-side Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is worth the 1:20 of your time. Very cool. Watching it happen is like watching something out of an old video game very interesting. Science can be quite a wild thing at times.
    • by jrumney (197329)

      Even cooler is the fact that it was posted by a time traveller.

      Published on 19 Aug 2013

      During the late hours of August 20th, an unnamed icy comet...

    • by Thud457 (234763)
      It's called a sun dive [laserstars.org]. Sun ... Dive. It's very simple to understand. What do you expect if you steal Hotblack Desiato's stunt ship?''
    • by pr0t0 (216378)

      The comet looks massive! It's hard to get a sense of it's scale given the sun's corona and the comet's corona, but that thing looks like a planetoid streaking in there. Is there any news on how big that was?

      • by Raenex (947668)

        Is there any news on how big that was?

        If only there was a search engine to find out such answers. Alas, I guess we'll never know.

    • But why do they need an awful soundtrack ? What is wrong with silence ?

  • by Derec01 (1668942) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:35AM (#44654653)

    The sun is vast, and that outward pulse appears to happen almost simultaneous with the impact of the comet.

    Which means I very much doubt it's related, as an effect would still have to have traveled at least some major fraction of the Sun's radius and back before the event would have been triggered.

    Granted, I suppose the comet could have been traveling away from us, and since the signal of the blast is traveling *toward* us, it basically pulled a Picard Maneuver [memory-alpha.org] and partially overtook the comet light.

    • But what if the sun-dwellers saw the comet coming?

    • Hmm. Solar eruptions due to things dropping into the sun...

      • by Derec01 (1668942)

        Sure, simultaneity is far from the only or strongest reason that's silly. But it is the one written as "Oh, isn't it interesting that..." in the summary. I don't like *wink-nudge* suggestions like that in scientific summaries. Just say it's unrelated.

        • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:18AM (#44655343) Homepage

          But it is the one written as "Oh, isn't it interesting that..." in the summary. I don't like *wink-nudge* suggestions like that in scientific summaries. Just say it's unrelated.

          Except, can we conclusively say it's unrelated??

          Certainly the two events were correlated -- if the CME happened at pretty much the same time as the comet impact, it's definitely interesting to note that.

          I mean, what are the odds that at mostly the same time you're seeing the one event, the other has just happened? In all likelihood the comet didn't have enough mass to have any affect on the sun, but it's definitely not obvious why the two events should happen so closely together.

          If I crash my car into a lamp post, and at that same time the building next to me explodes ... it's hard not to think "WTF happened here?". You wouldn't expect my impact with the lamp post to have enough energy or connection to the exploding building but you'd certainly notice it.

          So, either this is a really freak occurrence where two interesting but totally unrelated things happened at the same time (and I have no reason to believe it isn't) .. or something really fascinating was at work that nobody has a clue about.

          Of course, it's a completely un-testable thing since we can't just crash comets into the sun on demand ... but I would definitely agree with wording at as "Interestingly", if for nothing else than the sheer coincidence of the timing when you're talking about things on an astronomical scale.

          • Any idea of the relative kinetic energy of the comet and the mass ejection? Solar impacting objects are moving quite fast, and the corona is rather diffuse, still I would expect the CME to represent a lot more energy, with no clear mechanism for triggering by the comet impact.

            There is enough time for electromagnetic signals to transmit the information across the sun. The comet presumably looks like a clump of fast moving plasma by the time it hits.

          • by gr8_phk (621180)
            Since CMEs occur as a result of an abrupt change in the suns magnetic field (lines snapping to a new location) it does not seem implausible that a foreign object entering the outer reaches of some magnetic field loops should cause such a shift prior to impact. The even on the opposite side seems odd to me though. Ultimately we need to have a history of such impacts with mapping of the magnetic field in order to decide if the CME was triggered by the comet or not. Just more impacts without CMEs don't rule it
            • It sounds like work is already being done [newscientist.com] on this.
            • by Immerman (2627577)

              The CME wasn't "even on the opposite side", it only looks that way because it's coming straight at the camera. Considering that the comet's apparent (2-D) distance was still over a solar-radius away from the sun when the CME occurred that would mean it was probably at least 60 degrees of solar longitude away from the CME. Not *impossible* that it was somehow related, but highly unlikely.

          • by mdielmann (514750)

            Of course, it's a completely un-testable thing since we can't just crash comets into the sun on demand ... but I would definitely agree with wording at as "Interestingly", if for nothing else than the sheer coincidence of the timing when you're talking about things on an astronomical scale.

            Of course it's testable. Here it is. Wait and observe until a few more large bodies hit the sun. Observe results. Done. Isn't this how most astronomy and astrophysics research is done?

            • by mdielmann (514750)

              I don't normally reply to myself, but I watched the video, and other linked videos. Here's one [youtube.com] from October 2011. Looks like this one wasn't entirely inconsistent with past behaviour.

          • by AdamHaun (43173)

            If you watch the video, you can see that the CME happens before the comet hits, and actually vaporizes the comet on the way out.

            • by adolf (21054)

              If you watch the video, you can see that the CME happens before the comet hits, and actually vaporizes the comet on the way out.

              Indeed. I conclude from this that the sun was merely defending itself against an invasion.

    • Who's saying the events are causally connected?
    • by thaylin (555395)
      IF you watch the eary videos it shows a mass ejecting from both sides. Now if you consider that the comet is traveling VERY FAST, and that most transfers like this does not require the item to actually travel, just the atoms to shift.
    • by Zorpheus (857617)
      This seems to be a time lapse video, and it is not clear how much it is sped up.
    • by angelbar (1823238)
      What Picar Maneuver?, it adjust its jacket? *hides behind screen*
  • One word (Score:5, Funny)

    by RivenAleem (1590553) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:37AM (#44654685)

    *Burp*

    • by Lithdren (605362)

      Hahaha the sun burped at us!

      Wait...wait if the comet hit one side of the sun...and the CME came from th...the oth..

      Oh god...

    • How big is this flare? Can it be measured in terms of Star Trek movies?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        How big is this flare? Can it be measured in terms of Star Trek movies?

        About 1.3 J.J. Abrams lens flares - so yeah it's huge!

  • by PPH (736903) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:46AM (#44654849)

    ... Ballmer got the message.

  • My wireless just died.

  • obvious (Score:4, Informative)

    by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:52AM (#44654933)
    The timing is just too perfect. This is obviously an alien missile testing our resistance to EM radiation and charged particles and stuff.
  • Somewhat the sun was hit by an "unnamed" comet, and then the Sun is sending an eruption right into our direction, as it was a connection between those events. Is not uncommon [accuweather.com] that the sun is hit by comets. Unless this one had a core of exotic matter or was a disguised photon torpedo should be no relation between those events..
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:58AM (#44655013)
    That was a Disaster Area stunt ship.
  • Yawn. Wake me when a giant asteroid is about to hit us.

    Ya know what? Not even then.

  • At least the trolling will end...

  • by jratcliffe (208809) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:45AM (#44655729)
    Astrophysicist walks into a bar, orders a Mexican beer. Bartender yells, "OK, that's it, everybody out NOW!!!" As they're all leaving, another customer asks the astrophysicist, "what the heck is going on?" Astrophysicist replies "Coronal Mass Ejection."
  • by umafuckit (2980809) on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:25AM (#44656263)
    For those who are interested, it's possible to get the feeds from the orbital solar observatories and make your own movies of the Sun in action. A nice piece of software to automate this is jhelioviewer: http://jhelioviewer.org/ [jhelioviewer.org] You can even purchase a small solar telescope that will allow you to view the sun safely at hydrogen alpha wavelengths (at which a lot of features are visible). A popular beginner scope is the Meade PST: http://www.meade.com/product_pages/coronado/scopes/pst.php [meade.com] (Lunt is another good manufacturer). With that you can see solar flares, prominences, sun spots, etc. Prominences are particularly fun because they change visibly over the time-course of minutes; so you can literally see the Sun watch the sun change before your eyes. Here's a link on what's possible to see visually: http://www.prairieastronomyclub.org/resources/solar-observing/observing-the-sun-in-h-alpha/ [prairieastronomyclub.org]
  • by AndyKron (937105)
    Good. I hope it burns us to a fucking crisp
  • And it happens at the same time that Steve Ballmer announces retirement. And people say Astrology is crap.
  • Looks to me like the comet is a sperm cell impregnating the Sun...then the Sun has an orgasm.

  • It could be worse. At least it wasn't an eruption from Uranus.

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