Coronal Mass Ejections

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

CORONAL MASS EJECTIONS

In addition to solar flares, another frequently occurring solar event is the coronal mass ejection, in which the Sun sends concentrated bursts of solar wind into space. These events typically generate the equivalent energy of several atomic bombs. If Earth is in the path of the increased solar wind from one of these events, a geomagnetic storm may occur as a result of the solar wind distorting Earth's magnetic field (the magnetosphere). Such storms have been responsible for power system failures on Earth, including a major blackout in Quebec, Canada, on March 13, 1989, which left six million people without power for nine hours.