Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

April 11, 1997

The Sun Puffs
EIT, The SOHO Consortium, ESA, NASA

Explanation: The Earth has once again endured a burst of particles from the Sun. The latest storm, which began Monday, was one of the best documented solar storms to date. At 10 am (EDT) ground monitors of the SOHO spacecraft, which continually monitors the Sun, noticed a weak spot in the solar corona was buckling again, this time letting loose a large, explosive Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). Almost simultaneously, NASA's WIND spacecraft began detecting bursts of radio waves from electrons involved in this magnetic storm. Supersonic waves rippled though the solar corona as a puff of high energy gas shot out into the Solar System. The above image shows two photographs of the Sun taken about 15 minutes apart and subtracted, highlighting the explosion. The CME gas will have little lasting effect on the Earth, but might make this a good weekend to see an aurora.

Tomorrow's picture: Arecibo: The Largest Telescope

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.