On May 1, 2013, Active Region just around the left edge of the Sun erupted with a huge coronal mass ejection (CME). The video bellow shows combined imagery from NASA’s SDO, SOHO and STEREO heliophysics fleet.
Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) provided a view in the extreme ultraviolet wavelength of 304 angstroms of the initial arc as it left the solar surface. After CME left SDO’s field of view, ESA/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) used two overlapping coronagraphs – LASCO C2 and LASCO C3. LASCO C2 coronograph shows the region out to about 2.5 million miles while LASCO C3 coronagraph expands even farther out to around 13.5 million miles. Both of these instruments show the CME as it expands through the solar system.
NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO) satellites can see the eruption from a very different angle. Currently, STEREO Ahead spacecraft is more than a third of an orbit ahead of the Earth and has a view of the far side of the Sun. From this perspective, the CME came off the right side of the Sun and STEREO Ahead was able to track the CME from the solar surface out to 6.3 million miles. STEREO has an extreme ultraviolet camera similar to SDO’s, but it also has coronagraphs like SOHO.
Tracking space weather helps to determine if plasma clouds and solar material are headed toward Earth or spacecraft near other planets. With advance warning, many space assets can move into safe mode and protect themselves from the ill effects of such particle radiation.
Credit: Little SDOHMI
Featured image: Youtube screenshot