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Space Science

Coronal Mass Ejection Hits Earth 154

astroengine writes "On Tuesday, the Earth was hit by a coronal mass ejection (CME), triggering a 'moderate' geomagnetic storm, igniting aurorae at high latitudes. The CME in question was launched from the sun early on Sunday and space weather scientists predicted its arrival on Aug. 3 — the vast magnetic bubble of solar plasma arrived on schedule."
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Coronal Mass Ejection Hits Earth

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  • by lazarus ( 2879 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @10:59AM (#33138012) Homepage Journal
    Monitor the results. []
  • Re:EMP? (Score:5, Informative)

    by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@w o r f . n et> on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @11:15AM (#33138198)

    Could something like this have the same effect on electronics as an EMP?

    Imagine the chaos if all the microprocessors on the planet burned out at once. Or just in one hemisphere.

    On the surface, not so much - the magnetosphere funnels those charged particles to the magnetic poles, where they interact with the atmosphere and create the stunning light shows we call auroras. That said, they can induce currents to flow, especially in long lines (think power lines) which can cause circuit breakers to trip, cutting off the grid and causing power outages.

    In space, they cause lots of havoc with satellites - ranging from simple loss of communication (moving charged particles generate EM radiation, after all - same ones that cause power outages mentioned above), to complete destruction if it burns out some control circuits. So not only are the electronics rad-hard, but there are shut down protocols to temporarily turn satellites "off" to prevent damage. A dead satellite is a huge cloud of space junk waiting to happen, after all, especially if you can't deorbit it.

    Of course, the magnetosphere is supposed to be weakening in time for a supposed pole reversal, in which case life will get pretty interesting.

    This CME didn't result in any damage to satellites, though. Not sure if there weren't other effects (power outages, notable) caused, though.

  • by CyberGrandad ( 1852572 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @11:19AM (#33138250)

    2. There will be really impressive light displays (which I hope someone will post on YouTube

    No video (so far) but there are photos at

  • The good and the bad (Score:5, Informative)

    by dtmos ( 447842 ) * on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @11:35AM (#33138462)

    The additional bit of good news (if you're a VHF amateur radio operator, or FM or TV broadcast DXer) is that there should be interesting propagation of VHF radio signals [] refracting off of the aurora [], perhaps as far as 2000 km. The bad news is that the same ionization that refracts the VHF signals attenuates HF signals, so if you're an HF amateur radio operator or short-wave listener, the paths over the poles will be closed for a few days.

    I guess the additional bad news if you're a VHF broadcaster (FM or over-the-air TV) is that you can expect a lot of calls from the public complaining about poor reception, as signals from far away interfere with yours. :-/

  • Computer Crashes (Score:2, Informative)

    by SirBitBucket ( 1292924 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @11:59AM (#33138696)
    I had 5 of 25 machines crash last night. Could this be related? (Yes, I am serious...)
  • by s122604 ( 1018036 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @12:45PM (#33139276)
    It looks like 10 meters is actually doing well, maybe even better than before the event, but that might just be sporadic E, I dunno

    I've always loved the top end of the HF spectrum 10 meters, and the 11 meter "freeband", sometimes it acts like VHF, sometimes HF, sometimes both.

    On a side note, how ashamed should I be to say I have a "favorite" portion of the spectrum?
  • Re:Not Fair (Score:3, Informative)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @09:57PM (#33146198) Homepage Journal

    Not close at all. At my latitude, this storm was a vague glow in the sky; I could see that it was there, and in this case, I could even see a little bit of the detail, but it's just at the edge of vision. The camera, however, can see far more than I can in terms of low light; I used a long exposure, and a wide, light-gathering aperture (like your eye's pupil open wide, only much wider), and turned up the sensitivity of the amplifier on camera's sensor to its maximum in order to capture what you see here.

    To perceive it like this with the naked eye, either it would have to be much more intense (which does happen), or you would need to be further north and, as the lament above indicates, be enjoying a season during which the sun isn't hanging above you all night.

    I've only seen auroral activity this intense with my naked eye twice in twenty years around here. But this solar cycle has been very active in terms of CMEs and general flashiness, and my hopes are high that it'll happen this time around. I wrote an application (PD, linux/OSX) [] that lets me see what the auroral and observing conditions are, and another one that texts me when conditions are right, so for the first time in my life, I'll not miss even one opportunity except by choice.

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