A Coronal Mass Ejection strikes the Earth!

  • Released Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Energetic events on the Sun have impacts throughout the Solar System. This visualization, developed for the Dynamic Earth dome show, utilizes data from space weather models based on a real coronal mass ejection (CME) event from mid-December 2003.

Particles are used to represent the flow of solar material from the Sun around the Earth. It is important to note that the flowing material of the CME are actually ions and electrons far too small to see. This visualization tries to represent the motions of these tiny particles in a form large enough for us to see.

We open with a close-up view of the Earth, the particles representing the solar wind streaming around the Earth due to extended influence of the Earth's magnetic field. We pull out from the Earth and move so that we see the Sun in the distance. The enormous density enhancement in the solar wind is the coronal mass ejection. As the CME reaches the Earth, we see how effective the Earth's magnetic field is at diverting the solar material around the Earth. As the CME passes, we move earthward, and reveal the field lines representing the Earth's magnetic field, emanating from the magnetic poles and blown behind the Earth due to the influence of the solar wind. For simplicity, we have represented the Earth's magnetic field as unchanging, but it is actually very dynamic in its response to a CME or other change in the solar wind.


Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Release date

This page was originally published on Tuesday, January 24, 2012.
This page was last updated on Wednesday, May 3, 2023 at 1:53 PM EDT.


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