SOHO Captures Coronal Mass Ejection Speeding Off Sun

A coronal mass ejection shoots up from the sun in this image of the sun's atmosphere. The sun is obscured by the blue disk so that the dimmer atmosphere can be seen. This image was captured by the European Space Agency/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory at 9:54 p.m. EDT on Sept. 29, 2013. Image Credit: ESA & NASA/SOHO.

A cloud of particles known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME, can be seen bursting up and to the right off the sun (obscured by the center disk) in this image. CMEs are a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space.

This image was captured by the European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, at 9:54 p.m. EDT on Sept. 29, 2013. Known as a coronagraph, this kind of image blocks the bright light of the sun at the center, thus making the much dimmer atmosphere, the corona, visible.

The CME could be tracked outward from the sun via both SOHO and NASA's Solar Terrestrial Earth Observatory. Scientists track their size and speed - this one is believed to have been moving at around 530 miles per second, a fairly typical speed for CMEs -- in order to better understand a complex space weather system driven by the sun.

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