What is a CME?
Two main types of explosions occur on the sun: solar flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. Unlike the energy and x-rays produced in a solar flare – which can reach Earth at the speed of light in eight minutes – coronal mass ejections are giant, expanding clouds of solar material that take one to three days to reach Earth. Once at Earth, these ejections, also called CMEs, can impact satellites in space or interfere with radio communications. During CME WEEK from Sept. 22 to 26, 2014, we explore different aspects of these giant eruptions that surge out from the star we live with.