Alex: There are generally three things that happen; we have the flash of light or solar flare, the release of material or coronal mass ejection, and then the subsequently accelerated particles called solar energetic particles. Each of these takes a different amount of time to reach the Earth. The solar flare, because its light travels at the speed of light and takes approximately 8 minutes to reach us. The solar energetic particles are traveling extremely fast, close to the speed of light but not exactly the speed of light. So they take roughly 20 to 30 minutes to reach us. The coronal mass ejection is much slower and that takes about 1 to 4 days to reach us. Holly: Coronal mass ejections have a range of speeds but they can reach the Earth between the on the order of 1 day to 3 days, so that's how much time we have to prepare for when they impact the Earth. Phil: The flare travels at the speed of light, so as soon as the flare goes off on the sun 8 minutes later it's affecting us here at Earth.