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published by the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
This video-based tutorial from the Goddard Space Flight Center provides lay explanations of the differences between solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The strongest solar flares are almost always correlated with CME's. Both involve gigantic explosions of energy, but they emit different things, they travel differently, and have different effects on planets in our solar system. Solar flares look like sudden bursts of light, they contain tremendous energy, and travel at the speed of light. CMEs are plasma clouds containing enormous amounts of magnetized particles. CMEs travel over a million miles an hour, but well below the speed of light. Large CMEs can interrupt or overload electrical grids, create auroras, and degrade radio transmission. Both are widely studied by NASA missions such as Magnetospheric Multiscale (MMR) the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).
Subjects Levels Resource Types
- The Sun
= Magnetic Activity
= Space Weather
Electricity & Magnetism
- Electromagnetic Radiation
= Electromagnetic Spectrum
- Magnetic Fields and Forces
= Magnetic Fields
Modern Physics
- Plasma Physics
- High School
- Lower Undergraduate
- Informal Education
- Instructional Material
= Tutorial
- Audio/Visual
= Movie/Animation
Appropriate Courses Categories Ratings
- Physical Science
- Physics First
- Conceptual Physics
- Algebra-based Physics
- AP Physics
- Activity
- New teachers
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Intended Users:
General Public
Access Rights:
Free access
Does not have a copyright, license, or other use restriction.
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created February 25, 2022 by Caroline Hall
Record Updated:
February 25, 2022 by Caroline Hall
Last Update
when Cataloged:
August 7, 2017

Next Generation Science Standards

Disciplinary Core Ideas (K-12)

Types of Interactions (PS2.B)
  • Forces at a distance are explained by fields (gravitational, electric, and magnetic) permeating space that can transfer energy through space. Magnets or electric currents cause magnetic fields; electric charges or changing magnetic fields cause electric fields. (9-12)
Definitions of Energy (PS3.A)
  • At the macroscopic scale, energy manifests itself in multiple ways, such as in motion, sound, light, and thermal energy. (9-12)
  • These relationships are better understood at the microscopic scale, at which all of the different manifestations of energy can be modeled as a combination of energy associated with the motion of particles and energy associated with the configuration (relative position of the particles). In some cases the relative position energy can be thought of as stored in fields (which mediate interactions between particles). This last concept includes radiation, a phenomenon in which energy stored in fields moves across space. (9-12)

Crosscutting Concepts (K-12)

Energy and Matter (2-12)
  • Changes of energy and matter in a system can be described in terms of energy and matter flows into, out of, and within that system. (9-12)
ComPADRE is beta testing Citation Styles!

Record Link
AIP Format
(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, 2017), WWW Document, (https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes).
NASA: The Difference Between Flares and CMEs (NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, 2017), <https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes>.
APA Format
NASA: The Difference Between Flares and CMEs. (2017, August 7). Retrieved July 14, 2024, from NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes
Chicago Format
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA: The Difference Between Flares and CMEs. Greenbelt: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, August 7, 2017. https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes (accessed 14 July 2024).
MLA Format
NASA: The Difference Between Flares and CMEs. Greenbelt: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, 2017. 7 Aug. 2017. 14 July 2024 <https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes>.
BibTeX Export Format
@misc{ Title = {NASA: The Difference Between Flares and CMEs}, Publisher = {NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center}, Volume = {2024}, Number = {14 July 2024}, Month = {August 7, 2017}, Year = {2017} }
Refer Export Format

%T NASA: The Difference Between Flares and CMEs %D August 7, 2017 %I NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center %C Greenbelt %U https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Electronic Source %D August 7, 2017 %T NASA: The Difference Between Flares and CMEs %I NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center %V 2024 %N 14 July 2024 %8 August 7, 2017 %9 text/html %U https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/the-difference-between-flares-and-cmes

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Citation Source Information

The AIP Style presented is based on information from the AIP Style Manual.

The APA Style presented is based on information from APA Style.org: Electronic References.

The Chicago Style presented is based on information from Examples of Chicago-Style Documentation.

The MLA Style presented is based on information from the MLA FAQ.

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