Several times a day, the seething cauldron known as the sun undergoes a major eruption, shooting billions of tons of electrically charged gas into interplanetary space. Some of these parcels of gas, called coronal mass ejections, strike Earth and can damage sensitive satellite instruments and knock out power grids. Such temper tantrums are expected to peak in frequency this year as the sun reaches the maximum of its 11-year activity cycle, yet astronomers understand precious little about the origin of these explosive events.
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