M-Class Solar Flare and Coronal Mass Ejection (CME)

M-Class CME
Medium coronal mass ejection (M-Class CME) from August 18, 2013

Coronal mass ejection (CME) is the violent release of gas, radiation and magnetic fields, above the Sun’s corona and then often into space. This picture from August 18, 2013 is of a medium solar flare (M-class flare) and the associated coronal mass ejection. The solar flare is the strong bright region while the CME is the plasma streaking out. This picture was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

SDO is a mission launched in 2010 to study the causes of solar variability and its impacts on Earth. A CME directed towards Earth could affect affect us greatly. It could cause our planet’s magnetic field to shift suddenly; inducing electricity in large, powerful conductors. This would overload the affected electrical systems and cause massive damage to the critical electricity transformers and other grid infrastructure – with potentially drastic results for mankind.