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Long Duration M3.2 Class Solar Flare and CME
The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this video of the M3.2 solar flare on January 19, 2012. The graph at the top indicates corresponding X-ray measurements taken by the GOES-15 satellite. Credit: NASA/SDO/GOES-15
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A long duration M-class flare began erupting on the sun at 8:42 AM ET on Thursday, January 19. The flare is shown in the above movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory in a combination of light wavelengths. An earth-directed coronal mass ejection was associated with the solar flare. NASA's Space Weather Services estimates that it is traveling at over 630 miles per second and will reach Earth some time on Saturday, January 21, when strong geomagnetic storms are possible and viewers can be on the look out for increased aurora.

A coronal mass ejection beginning at about 10 AM ET on January 19, 2012, as captured by the Solar Heliospheric Observatory's LASCO C2 camera. Please Note: This video loops 3 times. Credit: NASA/SOHO
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Check back for additional information and media.

What is a solar flare? What is a coronal mass ejection?

For answers to these and other space weather questions, please visit the Spaceweather Frequently Asked Questions page.

Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center