Archive for SOHO

AR12192: Biggest Sunspot of Two Solar Cycles!

As of October 23, 2014, AR12192 is now the Biggest sunspot in 2 solar cycles. Just yesterday it reached the rank of largest sunspot in cycle 24.

AR12192 is the biggest sunspot in 2 solar cycles and the largest since Nov. 1990.

AR12192 is the biggest sunspot in 2 solar cycles and the largest since Nov. 1990.

The sunspot measures a whopping 2700 microhemispheres (MH or millionths of a visible solar hemisphere). Now it has surpassed AR10486 (2610 MH) of the famous 2003 Halloween storms. It is the largest sunspot since AR6368, which measured 3080 MH on November 18, 1990.

AR12192 is the largest in almost 24 years!

A reminder for scale, the surface area of Earth is 169 MH.

Here is a look at the superspot from the Halloween storms (AR10486) and AR12192 using the SOHO/MDI and SDO/HMI instruments respectively.

AR10486 vs AR12192

Astronomer Lou Mayo of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center captured this image of the region despite the wind and clouds of Maryland.

Astronomer Lou Mayo of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center captured this image of the region despite the wind and clouds of Maryland.

Evolution of AR12192 seen with SDO/HMI, Oct. 15-23, 2014

Evolution of AR12192 seen with SDO/HMI, Oct. 15-23, 2014

Slightly zoomed-in view of the evolution of AR12192 seen with SDO/HMI, Oct. 15-23, 2014

Slightly zoomed-in view of the evolution of AR12192 seen with SDO/HMI, Oct. 15-23, 2014

 

credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO/SDO/L. Mayo

Possible Glancing Blow CME

The slow CME produced by the giant filament eruption from June 4 could give Earth a glancing blow. The impact should be very weak but there could be a minor geomagnetic enhancement on June 7. High latitude aurora watchers may get to see some enhanced auroral activity. Let’s hope for some pretty light shows.

Here is a look at the CME in the lower left of the video created using the SOHO/LASCO C2/C3 coronagraphs.

credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO/helioviewer

Comet ISON: Coming to a Sun Near You

Amateur astronomer Waldemar Skorupa captured this picture of ISON from Kahler Asten, Germany (shared by spaceweather.com)

Amateur astronomer Waldemar Skorupa captured this picture of ISON from Kahler Asten, Germany (shared by spaceweather.com)

Current Status of Comet ISON

Updated Nov. 27, 2013 – 10:40 am EST or 15:40 UT

Size
1.3 mi in diameter or 2 in diameter km

Date and Time of Perihelion  28 November 2013, 18:38 UT (1:38 EST)
Distance from the sun at Perihelion
1,167,615 mi or 1,877,850 km
Speed at Perihelion
843,500 mph or 1,357,400 kph
Current Speed  317,380 mph or 510,800 kph
Current Distance to the sun
8,471,200 mi or 13,631,000 km
Current Distance to Earth
88,757,000 mi or 142,842,900 km

Comet ISON is fast approaching the culmination of its journey towards and hopefully around the sun. On November 28, 2013 at 18:45  UT (1:45 EST) ISON reaches perihelion (closest solar approach) and scientists can’t wait.

Comet ISON (C/2012 S1) is a sungrazing comet that was discovered by Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok on September 21, 2012 using as part of the International Scientific Optical Network (ISON).

Comet ISON Gallery

Comet Encounter on PBS – featuring Dr. C. Alex Young

What is a Sungrazing Comet?

Because ISON is a sungrazing comet it is of immediate interest to solar scientists. But what makes ISON really exciting is that the comet is large enough in size that it has a good chance of surviving its journey past perihelion (closest solar approach). Most sungrazing comets are completely destroyed during the closest approach to the sun. The intense solar radiation, solar wind and huge tidal forces usually spell certain destruction for most sungrazers. In fact, the now famous Comet Lovejoy survived its journey around the sun and scientist captured all of this with several spacecraft normally designed just to look at the sun not comets.

ISON promises to possibiltiy be even more spectacular as it is estimated to be larger than Lovejoy. Simply put is has more stuff and so it has a better chance of surviving its perilous journey near the sun.

As ISON gets closer to the sun it will continue to brighten. More observers on the ground and more missions in space will see the comet as it brightens.

By November 7, 2013, ISON has been observed by 8 different spacecraft including the solar missions, SOHO and STEREO (both STEREO-A and STEREO-B).

Comet #ISON observed by 8 spacecraft and counting! A quick look at the 8, http://bit.ly/1iOXfIr credit: NASA/ESA/ISON campaign

Comet #ISON observed by 8 spacecraft and counting! A quick look at the 8, http://bit.ly/1iOXfIr credit: NASA/ESA/ISON campaign

On November 8, 2013 ISON was about 0.8 AU (74 million m, 120 million km) from the sun, traveling 47 km/s (105,000 mph, 169,000 kph), shedding ~16 Olympic-sized pools of water per day. The average coronal mass ejection (CME) is traveling at speeds ~10-20 times faster and is made of ~1 billion tons of stuff, equal to ~ 400,000 Olympic-sized pools of water.

Comet ISON appeared in the higher-resolution HI-1 camera on NASA’s STEREO-A spacecraft. Dark “clouds” coming from the right are more dense areas in the solar wind, causing ripples in Comet Encke’s tail. Using comet tails as tracers can provide valuable data about solar wind conditions near the sun.
Comet ISON appeared in the higher-resolution HI-1 camera on NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft.

Image Credit: Karl Battams/NASA/STEREO/CIOC

How NASA Space Assets Will Observe Comet ISON

The main solar missions that are and will be observing ISON as it makes its journey around the sun are the SOHO, STEREO and SDO missions. These missions have all coordinated their observations to get the best possible data of the comet possible. The NASA Comet ISON Observing Campaign has outlined the basic plan on their website. In addition the STEREO team has outlined their plans for the SOHO and STEREO observations on their site. The SDO team on their external blog and on the Know Your Night Sky site. SDO also has a site dedicated to the near-realtime data they plan to receive.

How NASA Space Assets Will Observe Comet ISON

Credit: NASA

NASA has quite space fleet tracking ISON:

Solar Dynamics Observatory Observing ISON under extreme-ultraviolet light when the comet is closest to the sun.
SOHO Observing ISON as it passes by the sun in late November.
STEREO Observing ISON as it passes by on its way to sun in late November.
MESSENGER Observing ISON as it passes by Mercury on November 19th on its way to the sun.
BRRISON Sub-orbital balloon that will be launched mid September to study ISON from above nearly all of the Earth’s atmosphere.
FORTIS Sounding rocket that will be launched in mid-to-late November to obtain ultra-violet spectra from ISON.
Hubble Space Telescope Observed ISON in April-May and will see it again in October and December (if ISON survives).
Spitzer Space Telescope Observed ISON on June 13. The comet was 310 million miles away from the sun.
Chandra X-ray Observatory Observing ISON’s interactions with the solar wind.
International Space Station Astronauts will be able to observe Comet ISON as it passes by the sun in late November.
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Observing ISON as it passes by the moon in late November.
Swift In January and March, Swift observed ISON when it was 460 million miles away from the sun.
Curiosity Observing ISON as it passes by Mars. Closest approach is October 1st.
Opportunity Observing ISON as it passes by Mars on its way to the sun on 1 October.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Observing ISON as it passes by Mars. Closest approach is October 1st.
Deep Impact Imaged ISON for the first time on January 17 and 18 from 493 million miles away.

Ground-Based Observers

Amateur Astronomer You – with a telescope or binoculars in November.
Research Telescopes NASA Infrared Telescope Facility, Keck Observatory and many more.

What will SDO see?

There’s also a possibility that the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) satellite might be able to observe Comet ISON in extreme-ultraviolet when it’s closest to the Sun. However, at the currently estimated apparent distance of 1.8 solar radii, SDO would have to point away from the Sun to see the comet. In order to make these observations possible the SDO team has develop a detailed plan to point the spacecraft away from sun centered pointing. The “off-pointing” of SDO will take place in 3 stages. There is one pointing for ION’s approach, one during perihelion and one for its departure. Below is a diagram showing the predicted orbit of ISON as it passes the sun. Boxes mark the 3 different fields-of-view of SDO as it moves to follow the comet’s path. Each time the spacecraft moves to a new pointing there is a short period needed for the spacecraft to settle to minimize movement of the camera. There is also an animation of the observation plan. It shows the pointing and field-of-view for SDO as ISON passes the sun. For more about SDO check out their external blog and the Know Your Night Sky site.

pascal_perihelion
This diagram shows the observation boxes and approximate schedule for SDO’s observations of comet ISON at and near perihelion. (credit: NASA/SDO)

What will STEREO see?

STEREO and SOHO are expected to provide extensive coverage of ISON’s trip near the sun. The STEREO team has created a great set of images showing ISON’s predicted position before, during and after perihelion for the two STEREO spacecraft and the SOHO spacecraft. Here are the main predicted observations but the STEREO page provides a much more detailed discussion of what STEREO and SOHO should see. In addition to these images, the STEREO page has 2 different tools to look at ISON’s orbit.

Leading up to the Big Day

Predicted position of Comet ISON in HI1-A from November 30, 2013 to January 27, 2014, assuming a roll of 30 degrees.

Predicted position of Comet ISON in HI1-A from November 30, 2013 to January 27, 2014, assuming a roll of 30 degrees. (credit: NASA/STEREO)

Predicted day-by-day position of Comet ISON on the outbound journey in the HI1-A field-of-view from December 1-7, 2013, moving from right to left.

Predicted day-by-day position of Comet ISON on the outbound journey in the HI1-A field-of-view from December 1-7, 2013, moving from right to left. (credit: NASA/STEREO)

Around and Near Perihelion

Predicted position of Comet ISON in the EUVI-B field-of-view in ten-minute intervals between 17:50 UT and 20:00 UT on November 28, 2013.

Predicted position of Comet ISON in the EUVI-B field-of-view in ten-minute intervals between 17:50 UT and 20:00 UT on November 28, 2013. (credit: NASA/STEREO)

Predicted hour-by-hour position of Comet ISON in the COR2-B (blue), COR1-B (green), and EUVI-B (orange) fields-of-view between 06:00 UT on November 26, and 00:00 UT on November 30.

Predicted hour-by-hour position of Comet ISON in the COR2-B (blue), COR1-B (green), and EUVI-B (orange) fields-of-view between 06:00 UT on November 26, and 00:00 UT on November 30. (credit: NASA/STEREO)

Predicted hour-by-hour position of Comet ISON in the COR2-A (blue) and COR1-A (green) fields-of-view between 04:00 UT on November 28, and 13:00 UT on November 29.

Predicted hour-by-hour position of Comet ISON in the COR2-A (blue) and COR1-A (green) fields-of-view between 04:00 UT on November 28, and 13:00 UT on November 29. (credit: NASA/STEREO)

After Perihelion

Predicted position of Comet ISON in HI1-B from October 24 on the right, to November 25, 2013 on the left, assuming a roll of 180 degrees.

Predicted position of Comet ISON in HI1-B from October 24 on the right, to November 25, 2013 on the left, assuming a roll of 180 degrees. (credit: NASA/STEREO)

Predicted day-by-day position in the HI1-A field-of-view from November 21-28, 2013, moving from left to right.

Predicted day-by-day position in the HI1-A field-of-view from November 21-28, 2013, moving from left to right. (credit: NASA/STEREO)

What will SOHO see?

The LASCO C2 and C3 coronagraphs on the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite will also have a view of the comet as it passes through their fields-of-view, as shown below. From SOHO’s viewpoint the comet enters from the lower right early on November 27 and exits towards the top near the end of November 30.

Predicted hour-by-hour position of Comet ISON in the LASCO C3 (blue) and C2 (red) fields-of-view on SOHO, November 27-30, 2013.

Predicted hour-by-hour position of Comet ISON in the LASCO C3 (blue) and C2 (red) fields-of-view on SOHO, November 27-30, 2013. (credit: NASA/STEREO/SOHO)

Help spread the word with social media images!

Facebook Cover - Comet ISON

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More Resources for ISON

Below are listed some of the main great resources to follow all the aspects of Comet ISON. Also, The Sun Today’s Alex Young will be at the SDO Mission Operations Center on the day of perihelion to broadcast the event live via a special NASA sponsored Google+ Hangout. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

X Marks the New Spot! (Updated)

The newest active region on the sun has given us an X-flare and a CME!

15:10 UT (10/25/2013)

X again! AR11882 kicked it up again with an X2.1 peaking at 15:03 UT. A multi-million degree snapshot with SDO/AIA 94 angstrom.

20131025_151514_2048_0094

8:48 UT (10/25/2013)

The eruption that produced the X-flare also had an associated coronal mass ejection (CME). The plasma cloud is show hear by the LASCO/C2 coronagraph aboard the SOHO spacecraft. The CME is heading off in the Eastward (right) direction, not directly towards Earth.

20131025_0848_c2_1024

4:01 UT (10/25/2013)

Active region AR11882 rotated into view in the last day or so. It first made us really aware of its presence with a medium-sized, M2.9 flare peaking at 3:02 UT, 10/25/2013. Only 5 hours later it has given us the first X-flare since the quad X-flares of May 2013. AR11882 let out an X1.7 that peaked in GOES X-ray at 8:01 UT.

 

Xray-1Xray_1m-2

Here is a look at the NOAA GOES X-ray monitor. The first plot shows the GOES 5 minute data over 3 days. The second plot shows the GOES 1 minute data over the last 6 hours. The X1.7 flare peaks just after 8 UT and there is also a double humped M1 flare around 10 UT.

X-MarksTheSpot-X1.7.001

 

The SDO spacecraft also captured the event. This 4 panel image shows the flare near its peak in the 304, 171, 131 and 193 angstrom wavelengths.

Spectacular Erupting Filament with Earth-directed Space Weather

A huge filament erupted from the sun producing a beautiful coronal mass ejection (CME) and solar energetic particle event.

A filament eruption from around 21 UT, Sept. 29, 2013 observed by SDO in 304 and 193 Angstroms.

A filament eruption from around 21 UT, Sept. 29, 2013 observed by SDO in 304 and 193 Angstroms.

Around 21 UT, 9/29/2013 a filament erupted from the northwest quadrant of the sun. It started from the surface with a size of about 30-50 Earths or ~380,000-640,000 kilometers. By the time it left the SDO field-of-view it was easily twice that or roughly the diameter of the sun in length. The eruption produced a C1.2 solar flare as it ripped magnetic fields away from solar plasma. The 2 lines of brightening either side of where the filament lifted-off from are called two-ribbon flares.

The resulting CME was first observed in the STEREO Behind Cor2 and SOHO LASCO C3 coronagraphs. The initial speed estimate was ~850 km/s or ~3 million kph. This gives the CME a NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center (SWRC) SCORE of C-type or common.

 

The resulting CME from the filament eruption observed by the SOHO LASCO C2 and C3 coronagraphs. The solar disk is an SDO 304/193 Angstrom image.

The resulting CME from the filament eruption observed by the SOHO LASCO C2 and C3 coronagraphs. The solar disk is an SDO 304/193 Angstrom image.

The event also produced an increase in solar energetic protons for which NOAA issued an S1 solar particle radiation storm alert.

 

Preliminary heliospheric modeling carried out at NASA SWRC estimates that the CME may impact Earth and Juno. The leading edge of the CME is estimated to reach Earth and Juno at about 10/2/2013 14:39 UT  (plus minus 7 hours.) The roughly estimated expected range of the maximum Kp index is 3-5 (below minor to minor). This may produce a minor geomagnetic disturbance and enhanced aurora at higher latitudes.

 NASA SWRC CME Model

credit: NASA/SDO/SWRC/helioviewer

 

Slow Earth-directed Halo CME

This time a CME is headed directly for us!

Around 5:24 UT (1:24 EDT), the SOHO/LASCO C2 instrument caught a first glimpse at a CME leaving the sun directly for Earth. The CME is traveling at a fairly slow ~610 km/s or ~1.3 million mph. This is around the speed of the fast solarwind. It is a halo CME. It looks like an expanding smoke ring because it is headed straight for us. When we see halo CMEs in SOHO it means that they are either headed straight for us or away from us. By using the SDO and STEREO spacecrafts we can then determine if it is front-sided (towards Earth) or back-sided (away from Earth). SDO lets us see if there is an obvious eruption on the solar disk and STEREO allows us to see the CME from the side. In the case of this CME we can only get the necessary information from STEREO because we are currently experiencing ~10 hours data gap with SDO but a look at SDO 193 angstrom data right before the event seems to show some stirring just below disk center. This means that we don’t know actually where on the sun it is coming from yet. We will know as soon as data is available. Here is a video of combined SOHO/LASCO C2 and C3 images.

The ring of the halo CME is faint but it is there. You can also see lots of speckle on the images from a small solar energetic particle event. This event, though headed directly towards us, is fairly slow.

It is expected 8/23/2013 at 23:59 UT (8 pm EDT) give or take 7 hours according to NASA models.

20130821_101400_anim.tim-den
Estimates are for a minor or at most moderate geomagnetic storm. But that could mean aurora for high latitude observers.

credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO/SWRC and helioviewer

Aurora Ahead? – Filament Eruption with an Earth-directed CME

There may be a geomagnetic storm in store for Earth. Lookout aurora watchers!

2013_08_20_08_03_43_AIA_304__AIA_193

A filament ~50 Earths in length (~400,000 miles) erupted from the Sun’s southern hemisphere in the southwest direction around 7:24 UT (4:24 am EDT).

The eruption produced a Coronal Mass Ejection or CME,  traveling ~915 km/s or ~2 million mph. Here is a look at the CME in the SOHO/LASCO C2 instrument with Earth for scale. The sun is shown with a composite image of SDO 304 and 193 angstrom wavelength cameras.

2013_08_20_12_18_43_AIA_304__AIA_193__LASCO_C2

The next two images show snapshots of the CME in composite images with SDO and SOHO/LASCO C2/C3. The first frame is at 8:48 UT and the second one is at ~13:30 UT both on 8/20/2013. The bright object on the right in C3 (blue image) is Mercury and Regulus on the left.

2013_08_20_11_03_05_AIA_304__AIA_193__LASCO_C3__LASCO_C2

2013_08_20_11_18_05_AIA_304__AIA_193__LASCO_C3__LASCO_C2

NASA SWRC simulations indicate the CME leading edge will reach Earth on 8/22/2013 around 23:11 UT (7:11 pm EDT) +-7 hours. It could produce a minor geomagnetic storm along with aurora visible at higher latitudes.

20130820_122400_anim.tim-den

credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO/SDO and helioviewer

SOHO/LASCO C3 Sees a Very Bright Kreutz-group Sungrazing Comet

“One of the brightest Sungrazers we’ve seen in a long time …”,

tweeted Karl Battams (@SungrazerComets) of NRL’s Sungrazing Comets Project.

Very Bright Kreutz-group Sungrazing Comet

A snapshot of the new bright Kreutz comet captured by the SOHO/LASCO C3 coronagraph. This image was created and shared by Karl Battams, @SungrazingComet.

Battams estimates the comet to be approximately 30-50 kilometers wide and expects it to reach speeds of at least 500 km/s when it reaches its demise, vaporized by the sun. The comet currently has a magnitude around 6 and may reach 0 or even -1. This is not another Comet Lovejoy but it could be exciting in SDO imagery like the first comet seen by SDO, C/2011 N3 (SOHO). We look forward to seeing what transpires. Keep an eye out here for updates. For more on this and other sungrazing comets, past, present and future, check out the NRL Sungrazing Comet Project website and follow @SungrazerComets on Twitter.

Meanwhile, here is a video showing the beginning of the comets approach to the sun, observed with the SOHO/LASCO C3 instrument. Look in the bottom right of the video.

credit: NRL/NASA/ESA/SOHO/helioviewer and Karl Battams

M3.3 Solar Flare and a Coronal Mass Ejection

A long duration M3.3 flare with a beautiful eruption and CME!

Active region AR11818 produced a flare peaking in X-ray at 18:24 UT (2:24 pm EDT). The eruption produced extended X-ray emission with another flare, ~M1.5 after the initial eruption around 19:50 UT. The event ejected material that produced a Coronal Mass Ejection. Very preliminary measurements give a speed of roughly 1200 km/s or 2.6 million mph. The CME is headed in the southwest direction. We will have to wait for computer models but it looks like it could graze Earth based on looking at STEREO data.

Here are some snapshots with SDO 193/131, a zoom in with 304/171 and a look at the CME with LASCO (SDO 304 shows the sun.)

 

SDO AIA 193 and 131 Angstrom Images of the eruption

SDO AIA 193 and 131 Angstrom Images of the eruption

SDO AIA 304 and 171 Angstrom Images of the eruption a little more zoomed in.

SDO AIA 304 and 171 Angstrom Images of the eruption a little more zoomed in.

The Coronal Mass Ejection in SOHO/LASCO C2 with SDO/AIA 304 showing the sun.

The Coronal Mass Ejection in SOHO/LASCO C2 with SDO/AIA 304 showing the sun.

credit: NASA/ESA/SDO/SOHO/STEREO/helioviewer

Filament Eruption Sends CME Headed Towards STEREO Ahead and Mars

A filament erupted on the backside of the sun and was observed by the EUVI instrument on the STEREO Ahead spacecraft.

STEREO Ahead observes an erupting filament with the EUVI 195 angstrom camera.

STEREO Ahead observes an erupting filament with the EUVI 195 angstrom camera.

The eruption produced a CME detected by STEREO-A COR2, STEREO-B COR2 and SOHO LASCO C3 around 19:24 UT, May 26, 2013. NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center estimated the speed at ~879 km/s.

These three images show a coronal mass ejection, or CME, erupting into space on May 26, 2013. The pictures were captured by the ESA/NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory with its coronagraph, which blocks out the bright light of the sun to better see its dimmer atmosphere, the corona. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO

These three images show a coronal mass ejection, or CME, erupting into space on May 26, 2013. The pictures were captured by the ESA/NASA Solar Heliospheric Observatory with its coronagraph, which blocks out the bright light of the sun to better see its dimmer atmosphere, the corona. Credit: ESA&NASA/SOHO (http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/News052613-cme.html)

Based on computer modeling by the NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center, it is estimated that the CME may impact Mars and STEREO A. Simulations indicate that the leading edge of the CME will reach Mars at 16:27 UT (+- 7 hours) on May 30, 2013 and STEREO A at 11:08 UT (+- 7 hours) on May 29, 2013. Spacecraft operators are aware of the event.

 

20130526_225800_anim.tim-den

credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO, NASA/STEREO and NASA/SWRC