Physics

What are coronal mass ejections?

A coronal mass ejection (CME) is a vast cloud of electrically charged particles from the sun’s upper atmosphere or corona that’s heated to enormous temperatures and launched with a huge burst of speed by the energy released in a solar flare. These hot plasma blobs can have spectacular effects on planets that lie in their path, and while CMEs do not present a direct threat to life on Earth, they can potentially damage the technologies on which human society relies.

“CMEs can cause geomagnetic storms upon their arrival in the near-Earth environment,” Stephanie Yardley, a space weather expert at University College London, UK told Live Science. “These produce ground-induced currents that degrade power grids, and they can also affect the accuracy of GPS and GNSS satellite navigation systems.”

What causes CMEs?

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