Solar coronal mass ejections

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definition A huge eruption of material from regions of the solar corona in which the magnetic field is closed, but which suffer an extremely energetic disruption. Over the course of several hours up to 10,000 billion kg of this material is ejected into interplanetary space with a speed of as high as 3000 km/s. CMEs are most spectacularly observed by a white light coronagraph located outside Earth's atmosphere. Such observations from Skylab in the early 1970's were the first to reveal this phenomenon. CME's disrupt the flow of the solar wind and can produce intense electromagnetic disturbances that can severely damage satellites and disrupt power grids on Earth. When these ejections reach the Earth, they give rise to geomagnetic storms. The frequency varies with the solar cycle; during solar minimum they come at a rate of about one per week, and during maximum there is an average of about two or three per day.
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