Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) could affect satellite signals, brighten sky in coming days

A massive burst of particles from the sun could cause some satellite interference over the next few days.

Look at the image above: What you see outside the black circle is a picture of a Coronal Mass Ejection – or a CME – directed at earth.

NASA captured the image of the CME at 4:24 a.m. EDT on August 20. The solar eruption may have sent billions of tons of particles into space.

It takes between one to three days before a CME reaches our planet from the sun. While the particles can't travel through the atmosphere to harm humans, they can disrupt electronic systems in satellites in the air and on the ground, according to NASA.

NASA doesn’t expect much damage from this storm. That’s because it left the sun at speeds of about 570 miles per second. Scientists say that’s fairly standard speed for CMEs and bursts traveling at similar speeds have been pretty mild in the past.

Due to the fact our telecommunications and electrical systems are likely safe, we can take some time to hope people in the Tri-State will benefit from some of the more anesthetically pleasing parts of particle storms.

CMEs can have a positively glowing affect on the Northern Lights. According to Science World Report, a similar particle storm in April led to an enhanced aurora display that could be seen in New Jersey and Oregon.

These aurora displays are caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere ). They’re typically only visible in high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic ) regions.

Science World Report reports  that CMEs should become more frequent toward the end of 2013, the peak of the sun's 11-year activity.

You can find updates on the CME at NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center: http://www.swpc.noaa.gov

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