What happens when a Coronal Mass Ejection hits the Earth?


30 Responses to “What happens when a Coronal Mass Ejection hits the Earth?”

  1. Cicada Mania says:

    If it’s a really bad-arse one, no more BoingBoing (except for the old zine version some of us have stashed).

  2. Shibi_SF says:

    Fascinating!  Coronal Mass Ejection sounds so much more… scientific than “sun fart”.  I hope that it’s not SO intense that it messes with my connection to our WiFi printer (I was only just able to get it set up late last night).  

  3. senorglory says:

    the source of the original spark of life?  

  4. Jorpho says:

    They can also seep into and corrode the steel in lengthy stretches of oil and gas pipeline.

    No wai!  Really?

    I’m very tempted to call shenanigans here, but then, I know little of pipelines.

    • Andrew McKay says:

      No it’s true.  Look up cathodic reactions.  Different metals connected together will generate a voltage potential between them and will typically cause one of the metals to corrode or oxidize.  By applying an offsetting voltage you can either speed up or slow down this process.

      A huge magnetic field from the sun is noticeable across large grids of pipes as a voltage.  The company I work for designed electronics to provide cathodic protection of natural gas lines.  Typically applying a voltage of only a couple hundred of mili-volts is enough to project the pipes. 

      The other interesting part is that the data from the logs on this equipment was used by a local university to study the solar flares.  They were able to correlate data from the offset voltage they were applying to the solar activity that the earth is being bombarded with!

      • Nadreck says:

        It happens even with much smaller, but much closer, sources of EM radiation.  When they put up the CN Tower and its big antenna in downtown Toronto CN had to pay to install cathodic protection systems for the girders in some of the older office towers.

  5. GrymRpr says:

    11:45 a.m  E.S.T.  and the satellites are still beeping?

    PowerGrid unaffected?

    No Riots?

    Bah, That was no fun.

  6. Jim Saul says:

    Is the ACE satellite itself aged/damaged by solar activity?

    Is the Mars mission that’s carrying the Curiosity rover in the path of this?

    I’m always happy to see news of these because of the awesome aurora photography/video, but what a bummer if some stray particle on the roulette wheel comes up double-zeroes and knocks out a key non-redundant bit of data.

  7. mccrum says:

    Sweet!  Now all my prepper preparing won’t go to waste!  Enjoy being stuck in the dark ages guys, I’ll still have an internet connection via my generator and stockpiled nachos!

  8. st vincent says:

    Coronal Mass Ejection? Meh. I doubt that it will cause any problems whatsoe#@ƒ´∂¬¬ß¬¬

  9. Stonewalker says:

    Question to you who are knowledgeable about electricity/radio/magnetism:  This morning I noticed a quiet “buzz” or feedback-type sound coming from my crappy PC subwoofer.  This is was a new noise and I’ve never had any sort of interference get picked up on this subwoofer before.  I muted all input sources and turned the volume all the way up and from between 7am and 8am PST I heard some of the most wild EMI noises I’ve ever heard come out of my subwoofer.  Left for work at 8.

    Could this be from the CME, even though it hadn’t hit earth at that time?

    • Stonewalker says:

      Or is it the fire demons that the sun launched at us?  It’s probably just the fire demons.

    • Jorpho says:

      Maybe some kind of secondary effect?  Some local (and perhaps paranoid) neighbour/business/antenna facility turning on some kind of shielding in advance of the CME?

      • Stonewalker says:

        Huh, I found this Gizmodo story when I woke up.  It says that the storm is ongoing as of the time of it’s posting, it was posted last night so….  perhaps the full force of the storm hit at 11am est?

  10. Christopher says:

    Funny, it’s been a little over an hour now and I haven’t seen any effects at all. Last Thursday (the 19th) in the early afternoon when every website I tried to get to (including BoingBoing) to suddenly became unavailable I would have worried.

    Now I’m just wishing I lived close enough to the North Pole because, if there are any lingering after effects, I bet they’ll make the aurora even more spectacular than usual.

  11. manicbassman says:

    it’s clouded over completely and raining where I am, so no chance of seeing anything… typical English weather…

  12. julianasbananas says:

    Coronal Mass ejection, that’s hot.

  13. Halloween Jack says:

    So that’s what gave me my X-Ray vision this morning. Heck of a thing! I’d say more but right now I’m, um, a bit distracted. 

  14. lavardera says:

    cool computer model of the blow out here:

  15. Martin Liebermann says:

    Nothing visible in Germany, so far. Aurora displays are not very common here, but with favorable conditions we might see them.

    Thread on possible sightings: 

  16. What happens? People send mean tweets about Seal.

    or so I’ve heard.

  17. Dave says:

    I like “Sun Farts” better, LOL  after all it is a giant ball of gas.

  18. Chris Lee says:


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