Billion-ton parcels of charged gas hurled from the sun can overtake and eat their
slower-moving gaseous brethren, according to researchers who presented their
findings March 27 at a meeting of the European Geophysical Society in Nice,
Cannibalism among these clouds of charged particles, known as coronal mass
ejections (CMEs), is more than an astronomical curiosity. CMEs can harm
communications and power systems on Earth. Commenting about the work, Ernest
Hildner, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space
Environment Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., says that combined CMEs can act
differently from single ejections. Astronomers may have to take that into account
when they predict earthly effects, he notes.
The collision of two CMEs could generate, for example, a single, more powerful
punch, slow the speed of the faster eruption, or direct the merged CME toward or
Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.