Coronal Mass Ejection Likely to Pass North of East Lansing

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Thursday, September 11, 2014, 9:40 pm
By: 
Aron Sousa
Solar flare of September 10, 2014, courtesy of NASA

An X1.9 solar flare is likely to pass north of East Lansing . . . and the rest of earth . . . today, Friday, September 12. NASA observed a solar flare on September 10, with the space agency’s Solar Dynamic Observatory capturing video of it. This solar flare was classified as large and is expected to cause a sizable quantity of material to be ejected from the sun into space. The ejection of mass from the sun into space is called a coronal mass ejection. When coronal mass ejections are big enough and powerful enough, they can reach earth, causing problems with earthly electrical equipment, satelites, and the space statton.

This particular coronal mass ejection is expected to pass just north of the earth, which means it will probably not affect earth-based electrical systems, although it could be a risk to satellites.

Solar flares are rated using a letter and numerical system reflecting the energy of the flare in Watts per square meter. The letters of the rating system (Z, X, M, C, B, A) represent powers of ten, so Z flares are ten times as powerful as X flares, which are ten times as powerful as M flares, and so on. The numbers following the letter are linear, so an X4 flare is four times as powerful as an X1. The most powerful flare this year has been X4.9, and the most powerful on record is thought to be an X40 back in 1859.

A sizable coronal mass ejection from this particular flare would likely pass just north of earth on Friday, making it low risk for those of us in East Lansing. It is possible that the flare could lead to a good show from the northern lights.

ELi maintains strict standards for only-factual reporting, so the following East Lansing Horoscope is offered keeping this policy in mind. (A horoscope is a prediction that uses celestial events to predict events in human lives.)

No matter which astrological sign you were born under, your radios and electrical equipment should be safe from the solar storm. If you live on the space station, this might not be the best time to take a space walk. Consider looking north on Friday or Saturday night for the northern lights. But understand that it is rare to be able to see an aurora from East Lansing.

Image: September 10, 2014, solar flare. Courtesy of NASA.

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