Nasa has captured the image of a particularly wide Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) or flare, erupting from the Sun and spewing billions of tonnes of solar particles.
Experimental Nasa research models estimate that the CME, travelling around 1,120 km per second, reached the Earth on Saturday. CMEs of these speeds are usually benign.
The CME is a fairly small solar flare that was measured as C-class, a third in strength after X and M-class flares. The flare peaked at 7 p.m. Thursday, according to a NASA statement.
In the past, similar CMEs have caused auroras near the poles but have not disrupted the electrical systems or significantly interfered with GPS or satellite-based communications systems.
The image captured by NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory is of particularly wide flare, whose leading edge appears to wrap around over half of the entire sun as it moves out into space.