NASA released new videos of a solar storm engulfing our planet, captured by a spacecraft far from Earth.
The footage of the storm released on Thursday, was recorded in December 2008 and scientists have been working on it ever since. It's the first time such footage has been captured and solar physicists say it could lead to important advances in space weather forecasting.
The movies enabled scientists to pinpoint both the arrival time of the CME and its mass. From the brightness of the cloud, researchers can precisely calculate the gas density.
CMEs are billion-ton clouds of solar plasma launched by the same explosions that spark solar flares. When they sweep past our planet, they can cause auroras, radiation storms, and in extreme cases power outages. Tracking these clouds and predicting their arrival is an important part of space weather forecasting.
The movie sent chills down my spine, said Craig DeForest of the Southwest Researcher Institute in Boulder, Colo. in a statement. It shows a CME swelling into an enormous wall of plasma and then washing over the tiny blue speck of Earth where we live. I felt very small.
Pulling these faint clouds out of the confusion of starlight and interplanetary dust has been an enormous challenge, DeForest added.
See the videos below.
STEREO Tracks Solar Storms From Sun To Earth: NASA's STEREO spacecraft and new data processing techniques have succeeded in tracking space weather events from their origin in the sun's corona to impact with the Earth, resolving a 40-year mystery about the structure of the structures that cause space weather: how the structures that impact the Earth relate to the corresponding structures in the solar corona.
STEREO, ACE and Wind Witness Dec. 2008 CME: This video shows images taken by the various instruments on board the STEREO Ahead spacecraft of the December 2008 coronal mass ejection's path from the Sun to Earth. Closer to Earth is a dial showing the solar wind density changes at Lagrangian point L1 where the ACE and Wind spacecraft recorded the event.
December 2008 CME as Viewed by Spacecraft: Newly reprocessed images from NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft, allow scientists to trace the anatomy of the December 2008 CME as it moves and changes on its journey from the Sun to the Earth, identify the origin and structure of the material that impacted Earth, and connect the image data directly with measurements at Earth at the time of impact.
2008 CME's Path Though Inner Solar System: Based on actual data, this animated graphic shows the path through the inner solar system of a coronal mass ejection (CME) that occurred in December 2008. The twin STEREO spacecrafts are also present as observers of the event.