Snow on the Windshield: Major Solar Particle Storm Smacks Earth (January 27, 2012)
Hi-res TIF image (4.9M)
A major solar storm, marked at the Sun by an M8.7 soft X-ray flare and the eruption of a fast coronal mass ejection (CME), began early on January 23, 2012, igniting the most intense solar energetic particle storm since 2005. The expanding CME drove a shock through the solar wind, analogous to a bow wave in front of a fast moving vessel. In the shock, electrons and protons were accelerated to nearly the speed of light and appear in the video clip as streaks of light as they hit SOHO's detectors. When the shock reached Earth, CME particles spiraled down the magnetic field lines near Earth's poles and caused spectacular aurora displays in the higher latitudes. Some observers claimed it was the best display they'd seen in many years. You can watch a clip of aurora from Sweden here.
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