Solar Explosions Blast Into Space

The Sunís corona can rip open and spew as much as 20 billion tons of material into space, equivalent to the mass of 200,000 cruise ships. These explosions are known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), the hurricanes of space weather.

When a CME plows into the solar wind, it can create a shock wave that accelerates particles to dangerously high energies. Behind that shock wave, the CME expands into a huge cloud that engulfs planets in its path.

Luckily for us, few CMEs are aimed at Earth. If a CME erupts on the side of the Sun facing us, the results around Earth can be spectacular and sometimes hazardous.

  The Space Weather Center is part of the National Space Weather Program, with funding provided by NASA and the National Science Foundation.  



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