A Coronal Mass Ejection strikes the Earth!

  • Released Tuesday, January 24, 2012
  • Updated Thursday, August 9, 2018 at 2:33PM
  • ID: 3902

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


This visualization can be found in the following series:

Datasets used in this visualization

BATS-R-US Magnetosphere Model
ModelCommunity Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC)2006/12/14-2006/12/15

MHD Magnetospheric simulation

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Enlil Heliospheric Model (A.K.A. Enlil Heliospheric Model)
ModelCommunity Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC)2006/12/11-2006/12/15
Magnetic Field Lines (Luhmann-Friesen) (Collected with the Luhmann-Friesen Magnetosphere Model (1979) sensor)

Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 84, Aug. 1, 1979, p. 4405-4408

Dataset can be found at: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1979JGR....84.4405L

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Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details nor the data sets themselves on our site.

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