Notable CMEs of Solar Cycle 24

  • Released Wednesday, September 25th, 2013
  • Updated Friday, December 11th, 2015 at 12:00AM


Simulations & visualizations of some of the big solar events of Solar Cycle 24.

These visualizations were developed to present a more public-friendly view in a way that the major events of space weather, such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are more obvious even to the untrained observer. We use a fairly basic technique or 'trick' of using the three image color channels, red, green, and blue, to present different variables computed in the model run. The visual color-bars are also on the animation page.

In this case, red represents temperature (kind of obvious choice) so redder is hotter plasma. Green represents density of the plasma. Blue is a pressure gradient, or change in pressure over distance. More blue means a stronger shock wave moving through the plasma, which is more a characteristic of a CME. By combining the three color channels, intense values of these variables can show up as distinct colors. For example, a hot, dense shock combines red, green, and blue to form white. But you could also have a lower density hot shock combining red and blue to make magenta (or purple/violet).

The major visible feature is the 'Parker spiral'. As the solar wind flows out from the sun, the sun is rotating. Density enhancements (green in the visualization) in the wind get propagated outward to make this spiral shape - not too different from the spiral pattern created by a spinning lawn sprinkler. Coronal mass ejections get imprinted on this pattern.

CCMC Model Runs

CMEpalooza: A Week of CMEs

In the middle of May, 2013, an active sunspot group launched a series of multiple CMEs almost daily. Here we've run the research model out to the orbit of Saturn!