NASA says sun eruption sending billions of tons of particles at Earth

May 17, 2013 at 5:43 PM
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GREENBELT, Md., May 17 (UPI) -- NASA says the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection early Friday, sending billions of tons of solar particles into space and heading our way.

Particles from a CME can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground when they reach Earth one to three days later, the space agency said.

The CME which erupted at 5:24 a.m EDT left the sun at speeds of around 745 miles per second, NASA scientists said, and could cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm when it connects with the outside of the Earth's magnetic envelope known as the magnetosphere.

NASA says it is tracking the CME with its STEREO mission, consisting two space-based observatories, one ahead of Earth in its orbit, the other trailing behind.

The CME may pass by NASA's Spitzer space telescope and its mission operators have been notified and if warranted can put it into safe mode to protect the instruments from the solar material, the space agency said.

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