NASA has announced that they've detected a coronal mass ejection, or CME, from the sun which is directed towards earth. In a CME event, millions of tons of solar material can be launched away from the sun. These particles, which travel at a speed around 575 miles per second, will reach Earth in one to three days. Based on NASA's predictive models, this will only be an average CME and its effects will be relatively mild.
NASA does not expect there to be any interference with satellites or electrical systems, but does note that there may be increased aurora activity near the north and south poles.
A coronal mass ejection occurs when the strong magnetic fields that make up the outer solar atmosphere are closed, and the confined and violent solar atmosphere can then eject bubbles of gas and magnetic fields in a solar explosion. CMEs sometimes are associated with solar flares, however, this one occurred independently.
The largest CME events eject several billion tons of solar matter.
When particles from a coronal mass ejection get near to Earth, they can cause a specific kind of space weather known as a geomagnetic storm, in which the particles connect with the Earth's magnetic envelope for a period of time. Geomagnetic storms can cause damage to both communications and GPS satellites, but most of the time the effects are generally limited to minor signal disruptions and increased aurora activity.
NASA used the Solar and Helioscopic Observatory (SOHO) to capture images of the coronal mass ejection as it was moving away from the sun and out into space.
NASA shared a video of the CME on YouTube, which can be viewed above.