The third coronal mass ejection in two days erupted off the sun in the direction of Mercury on April 21, 2013, at 12:39 p.m. EDT (1639 GMT). This image of the CME, shown shooting off the right side of the image, was capture by the joint ESA and NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The sun is blocked in this image so its brightness doesn’t obscure the solar atmosphere, the corona.
The sun has unleashed a trio of solar eruptions toward the planet Mercury in recent days, solar storms that may pass one NASA spacecraft while dealing a glancing blow to another, NASA officials say.
The three flares erupted from the sun over the span of two days, and belched waves of plasma and charged particles — called coronal mass ejections (CMEs) — that are now heading toward Mercury, NASA officials said in a statement. The combined CMEs are expected to pass the agency's Messenger probe, which has been orbiting the planet closest to the sun since March 2011, but may deliver a glancing blow to the Stereo-A spacecraft, which circles Earth while training its eyes on the sun.
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