November 21, 2012

How About a Coronal Mass Ejection With Your Thanksgiving Turkey?

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CME on Nov. 20, 2012 at 8:54 a.m. EST. Image Credit: NASA/STEREO
Nov. 21, 2012 - Will your post-Thanksgiving Day festivities be ruined by a solar flare? Maybe, possibly, because a sizable flare (video below) on the Sun shot off a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) yesterday and it's headed straight toward Earth. The flare occurred on Nov. 20, 2012, at 7:09 a.m. EST and is expected to strike our planet on Friday, Nov. 23.

"Not to be confused with a solar flare," notes NASA, "a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and can reach Earth one to three days later. When Earth-directed, CMEs can affect electronic systems in satellites and on Earth."  NASA says that the coming CME could cause a geomagnetic storm, but it will probably not be strong enough to disrupt satellites, power grids or electronics.

According to NASA, "the Nov. 20 CME left the sun at speeds of 450 miles per second, which is a slow to average speed for CMEs. CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when CMEs successfully connect up with the outside of the Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. In the past, CMEs of this speed have not usually caused substantial geomagnetic storms. They have caused auroras near the poles but are unlikely to cause disruptions to electrical systems on Earth or interfere with GPS or satellite-based communications systems."

So, enjoy your turkey and don't worry about all that deadly stuff hurtling at you through space. In fact, you might even enjoy a beautiful sky show.

"Rapid growth from Active Region 11618 produced a moderate Impulsive M1.4-Class Solar Flare at 06:56 UT Today," noted SolarWatcher on YouTube, "this followed two filament eruptions which were both in earth facing positions. A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is expected to impact the earth in sometime November 23rd and may spark a G1 or G2 class geomagnetic storm will be possible. more news shortly."

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