Sun sends particle ejection toward Earth

March 15, 2013 at 7:02 PM
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GREENBELT, Md., March 15 (UPI) -- NASA says the sun erupted early Friday with an Earth-aimed coronal mass ejection, solar particles that can affect electronics in satellites and on the ground.

Observations show the CME left the sun at speeds of around 900 miles per second, a fairly fast speed for CMEs that could result in mild to moderate effects on Earth in one to three days, the space agency said.

Earth-directed CMEs can cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they connect with the outside of the Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time, NASA scientists said.

Geomagnetic storms caused by CMEs such as this one have usually been of mild to medium strength in the past, they said.

NASA said the CME may pass by the Spitzer space telescope and the Messenger spacecraft orbiting Mercury and has notified their mission operators.

NASA said updates if needed would come from the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, the government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

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