NASA / SOHO / ESA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / SOHO / ESA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Solar eruption. SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) image of a huge coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun. The solar disc is obscured to prevent the image being over-exposed. The white circle at centre represents the Sun. A CME is an energetic eruption from the corona, the hot outer layer of the Sun. A common event during periods of high solar activity, it consists of charged gas (plasma) travelling at up to 400 kilometres per second. If directed towards Earth, it may cause magnetic storms and aurorae. This one occurred on 23 January 2012. SOHO, orbiting at the Sun's L1 point, was launched in 1995.
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