Coronal Mass Ejection
November 02, 2003
Active sunspot region 10486 put on a spectacular show this past week. A huge solar flare on October 28, the second largest ever observed by the SOHO satellite (shown above on this approximately 2 hour loop), triggered a fast-moving coronal mass ejection. This "ejection" resulted in one of the strongest geomagnetic storms to hit the Earth in a number of years. Any conductor lying in a magnetic field altered by a coronal mass ejection, such as a power line or pipeline, can experience a surge in current. Although there was the potential for wide-spread disruption of satellite communications, power grids and cell phones, it appears that there were few serious damages and disruptions. Because Earth's geomagantic field (magnetosphere) was bombarded by charged particles from this extremely powerful solar eruption, auroras were visible in the mid latitudes, even as far south as Athens, Greece and Atlanta, Georgia.