Archive for Solar Storms

AR11967 Continues its Flaring and AR11968 Sends a CME Our Way

 There are two main active regions (ARs 11967/11968) on the sun and both are giving a moderate show.

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AR11967 continues to produce C- and M-level events, including an M3.0 flare at 07:14 UT Feb. 1, 2014. The region continues to show signs of magnetic flux emergence and merging sunspots in its core. Flaring activity at the M5 level or greater over the next day or two is likely. (from Max Millennium 2/1/2014)

This video shows the event using SDO/AIA 131, 171 and 193 composite images.

This video shows the event using SDO/AIA 131, 171 and 193 composite images.

Preliminary heliospheric modeling carried out at NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center (SWRC) estimates the CME may impact Earth. Simulations indicate that the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth at about Feb. 3, 2014 around 16:42 UT (the standard quoted error to the time is +- 7 hours.)  An estimate for geomagnetic activity is Kp from 4-6. This is an upper limit and corresponds to a below minor to moderated geomagnetic event. This could mean that high latitude aurora observers may see enhanced aurora. The simulation also indicates that the CME may affect MESSENGER.  The leading edge of the CME will reach MESSENGER on Feb. 2, 2014 at 11:06 UT.

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Possible Glancing Blow from M6.6 Associated CME

CME may impact Earth on Feb. 2, 2014 according to NASA SWRC research models.

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At 16:11 UT Jan. 30, 2014, an M6.6 flare from AR11967 peaked in the GOES X-ray monitor. This was about 15 minutes after the completion of an extra long lunar transit observed by the SDO spacecraft.

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The flare was associated with a filament/prominence eruption, which produced a CME observed by the STEREO Behind and SOHO spacecraft.

The CME had an estimated speed of slightly less than 1000 km/s. The CME is then classified as a C-Type or Common CME in the SWRC SCORE CME classification system.

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Preliminary heliospheric modeling carried out at NASA GSFC Space Weather Research Center (SWRC) estimates the CME may impact Earth. Simulations indicate that the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth at about Feb. 2, 2014 around 7:20 UT (the standard quoted error to the time is +- 7 hours.)  A rough estimate for geomagnetic activity is Kp from 4-6. This is an upper limit and corresponds to a below minor to moderated geomagnetic event. This could mean that high latitude aurora observers may see enhanced aurora.

The simulation also indicates that the CME may affect MESSENGER and Spitzer.  The leading edge of the CME will reach MESSENGER on Jan. 31, 2014 at 5:04 UT and Spitzer on Feb. 1, 2014 at 19:05 UT.

Due to the presence of a large coronal hole NE of the source the CME is expected to be deflected.

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The NASA GSFC SWRC also carried out heliospheric ensemble modeling of the CME. SWRC CME ensemble is obtained by building sets of initial CME parameters and by carrying out separate simulations for each set. This approach will allow mapping of uncertainties in the initial CME parameters into statistical characterization of the CME impact at locations of interest. The event is again estimated to impact Earth. Out of 25 ensemble members, 14 indicate impact at Earth. Ensemble simulations indicate that the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth between about Feb. 1, 2014 at 18:22 UT and Feb. 2, 2014 at 15:43 UT. The average arrival is Feb. 2, 2014 at 5:44 UT. The ensemble modeling also estimates Kp from 4-6 as an upper limit.

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credit: NASA/SDO/GSFC/SWRC/helioviewer

A Whole Lot Happening on the Sun – In Many Types of Light

The sun has been really active lately. SDO gives us an amazing view of this activity in many different wavelengths of light.

This also shows us the sun’s atmosphere in many temperatures ranging from ~4500 Kelvin or 7600 degrees Fahrenheit to over 20 million Kelvin or 36 million Fahrenheit.

This video shows 8 of SDO’s 10 wavelengths, 1700, 1600, 304, 193, 211, 335, 94 and 131 angstroms.

There is a lot of interesting activity including several connected events from and between the active regions on or near the West limb or right side of the sun.

These events also had several CMEs. The CMEs are included in the list below which shows all observed CMEs greater than 500 km/s both Earth and non-Earth directed.

For a period of about 48 hours, 00:30 10/28/2013 to 00:31 10/30/2013, the sun produced 6 M-class flares and 2 X-class flares from 3 different sunspot groups our active regions. The events were:

date start time end time peak time class location active region
2013-10-28 01:41:00 02:12:00 02:03:00 X1.0 N05W72 1875
2013-10-28 04:32:00 04:46:00 04:41:00 M5.1 N08W72 1875
2013-10-28 11:32:00 12:39:00 11:53:00 M1.4 S14W46 1874
2013-10-28 14:00:00 14:12:00 14:05:00 M2.8 N08W78 1875
2013-10-28 14:46:00 15:04:00 15:01:00 M2.7 S08E27 1882
2013-10-28 15:07:00 15:21:00 15:15:00 M4.4 S06E28 1882
2013-10-28 20:48:00 21:02:00 20:57:00 M1.5 N07W83 1875
2013-10-29 21:42:00 22:01:00 21:54:00 X2.3 N05W89 1875

This video shows 8 of SDO’s 10 wavelengths, 1700, 1600, 304, 193, 211, 335, 94 and 131 angstroms.

There is a lot of interesting activity including several connected events from and between the active regions on or near the West limb or right side of the sun.

These events also had several CMEs. The CMEs are included in the list below which shows all observed CMEs greater than 500 km/s both Earth and non-Earth directed.

CMEs greater than 500 km/s:

Earth directed:
Starting time Speed (km/s) Type Direction (LON/LAT in HEEQ) Half-Angle width (degrees) Detecting spacecraft (real-time)
2013-10-28T02:12Z ~ 625 C 65/7 60 SOHO, STEREO A,B
2013-10-28T15:48Z ~ 900 C -10/20 28 SOHO

Non-Earth directed:
Starting time Speed (km/s) Type Direction (LON/LAT in HEEQ) Half-Angle width (degrees) Detecting spacecraft (real-time)
2013-10-28T04:48Z ~ 750 C 73/15 55 SOHO, STEREO A,B
2013-10-28T12:12Z ~ 600 C 83/10 20 SOHO and STEREO A
2013-10-28T14:12Z ~1100 O 80/27 35 SOHO
2013-10-28T16:36Z ~ 525 C 70/6 15 SOHO
2013-10-28T21:16Z ~ 574 C 83/22 25 SOHO and STEREO A

credit: NASA/SDO/helioviewer/SWRC

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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credit: NASA/ESA/SOHO/SDO and helioviewer

Two Non-Earthbound CMEs May Impact Mars and Several Spacecraft

Two CMEs (Coronal Mass Ejections) occurred in the early hours of November 8, 2012 (UT), the later one a more significant, O-type CME. The 2 CMEs are denoted with red arrows in this snapshot from the NASA Space Weather Research Center (SWRC) CME propagation computer model.

Computer Model for the Propagation of the 2 CMEs

The first C-type CME was detected by SOHO LASCO C2, SOHO LASCO C3, STEREO-A COR2 and STEREO-B COR2. This CME is associated with the M1.7 class solar flare that peaked at 02:23 UT from an east limb active region just rotating onto the solar disk. This event was first detected at 02:38 UT with a plane-of-the-sky speed of ~710 km/s.

The first of the 2 CMEs seen by the SOHO LASCO C2 instrument.

The second O-type CME was detected by STEREO-A COR2 and STEREO-B COR2. This CME is related to the SEP event at STEREO-A. This event was first detected at 11:09 UT with a plane-of-the-sky speed of ~1285 km/s.

The second of the 2 CMEs seen by the STEREO A Cor2 instrument.

The video below shows an animation of the NASA SWRC computer model of the CME’s propagation through the solar system.

From the model it is estimated that the CMEs may impact STEREO-A, STEREO-B, Mars, Spitzer and Messenger. Simulations of the CMEs indicate that the leading edges of respective CMEs will reach: Messenger at 2012-11-09 02:25 UT, Stereo A at 2012-11-10T 10:34 UT, Stereo B at 2012-11-11 11:50 UT, Spitzer at 2012-11-10  21:59 UT, and Mars at 2012-11-12T16:14 UT (plus minus 7 hours).

The Sun Today for October 10, 2012

 

Two new active regions could bring solar activity, one numbered (AR11589) and one not yet on the solar disk. Based on recent activity M class flares are possible from both.

The region just over the limb produced an M1 flare at 5:04 UT.

A composite in 131, 171 and 304 Angstrom light from SDO/AIA of an M1.0 solar flare at 5:04 UT, 10/10/12.

Geomagnetic activity continued last night with many aurora reports. Pilot Matt Melnyk captured this beautiful aurora from the cockpit of a plane while flying 21,000 feet over Alberta, Canada.

Aurora at 21,000 feet. credit: Matt Melnyk and courtesy of spaceweather.com

A Little Flare and some geomagnetic activity April 23, 2012

At 17:40 UT, the Sun produced a C2 solar flare with a radio burst and a SCORE-C CMENASA Goddard Space Weather Center predicts it will reach Earth 4/27/2012 at 5:49 UT with only minor impact. Currently, there is a small geomagnetic storm underway so those at high latitudes have a chance for Aurorae.

It Just Won’t Quit! More from AR11429!

 

Sunspot group or active region AR11429 has almost rotated out of view but it still had enough energy to release an M7.9 X-ray solar flare, a fast coronal mass ejection (CME) and a solar energetic particle event (SEP). A geomagnetic storm due to a glancing blow from the CME is expected early March 15, 2012.

Sunspot group AR11429 has been busy on its ~2 week journey across the Sun. It has produced many solar flares (including 1 of the biggest of the current solar cycle), coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and solar energetic particles (SEPs). As of March 14, 2012, it has almost rotated out of the view of Earth but on March 13, 2012 the region erupted producing a flare, CME and SEP. The flare, an M7.9 X-ray event, peaked at 17:41 UT.

The resulting CME was first observed in the SOHO/LASCO C2 coronagraph at 17:36 UT, the STEREO Behind Cor2 coronagraph at 17:55 UT and the SOHO/LASCO C3 coronagraph at 17:56 UT.

The first observations of the CME in LASCO C2, Cor2B and LASCO C3. 

 

An increase in energetic protons, indicating the start of a SEP event, was recorded by the GOES particle monitors at 18:10 UT.

The CME had an initial estimated speed of 2250 km/s. Forecasters at the NASA Space Weather Center ran computer a computer model indicating that the flank of the CME will reach Earth at about 6:20 UT (2:20 AM EDT), March 15, 2012 (plus minus 7 hours).

This might result in a minor/moderate geomagnetic storm. The estimated maximum Kp index is 4-6. High latitude aurora watchers should keep a look out for a light show.

The eruption also produced solar radio bursts caused by the flare and the CME.

More Geomagnetic Storms Predicted for March 11, 2012

 

 

CMEs are on their way to us! Estimated impact is March 11, 2012 around 2-3 PM EDT. High latitude aurora watchers keep lookout the night of March 11, 2012.

On March 10, 2012, the sun produced 1 C-class flare and 2 M-class flares along with 2 Earth directed coronal mass ejections (CMEs). The first flare was a C8 long-duration X-ray blast that peaked at 15:52 UTC (10:52 AM EST) from sunspot group AR11430. This active region is just West (to the right) of the recently busy sunspot group AR11429. AR11429 then produced 2 M-class X-ray flares. An M5.4 and an M8.4 peaking at 17:27 UT (12:27 PM EST)  and 17:44 UT (12:44 PM EST) respectively.

Figure 1: The 3 flares (C8, M5.4 and M8.4) are seen on the solar disk by SDO with arrows pointing to the corresponding peaks in the X-ray seen by the GOES X-ray monitor.

Figure 1 shows a trace of the X-ray flares recorded by the GOES X-ray monitor. Images above that plot show the flares labeled in the 131 Angstrom wavelength camera from the SDO spacecraft with arrows from the flare on the Sun to the corresponding peak in the GOES trace. The times on the SDO images do not correspond exactly to the GOES plots because the peak emission in the 131 Angstrom wavelength (extreme ultraviolet) is usually slightly after the peak emission in X-rays.

Radio bursts were observed during the M8.4 flare. The amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft in New Mexico recorded a series of radio bursts from the flare in the 21 and 28 MHz radio bands. Figure 2 shows a dynamic spectrum plot (a range of radio frequencies over time) from the flare. You can listen to an audio recording of the radio burst from the audio player below the image of the dynamic spectrum.

Figure 2: Dynamic spectrum courtesy Wes Greenman, Alachua County, Florida and spaceweather.com (Click the player below to play the audio file)


The radio burst, called a type IV radio sweep,  was caused by solar flare accelerated electrons moving around magnetic field in AR11429. Ashcraft noted, “There is incredible complexity in the waveforms. This is a recording of one of the most turbulent events in all of Nature!”

Along with the C8 flare, AR11430 produced a slow Earthward directed CME, first seen in LASCO C2 at 16:24 UT, traveling around 600 km/s. A faster CME traveling at 1400 km/s was observed in LASCO C2 at 18:09 UT and was associated with the M flares from AR11429.

 

Figure 3: The 2 CMEs from the March 10, 2012 eruptions seen by the SOHO LASCO/C2 coronagraph. The first panel shows the slower CME form AR11430 and the second panel shows the faster CME from AR11429 coming up behind the slower CME from earlier. Both CMEs are slightly off to the right (West) of center but they are at least partially Earth directed.

The NASA Space Weather Center produced a computer model showing the CMEs traveling basically as magnetized cloud towards Earth.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf9TF-uoi1M

The 2 CMEs will reach Earth at about 2012-03-12 18:03 UT (2:03 PM EDT) (plus minus 7 hours) which might result in a moderate/strong geomagnetic storm. The estimated maximum Kp index is 5-7 (please note this is a rough estimate).

Our own Dr. Ryan Milligan of Queen’s Univerisity Belfast and the Max Millennium Observing group is reporting that the complexity and size of sunspot group AR11429 remains largely unchanged indicating that the likelihood of more M-class flares is high.

Figure 4: Sunspot group NOAA AR11429 has remained largely unchanged over the past day indicating potential for continued M-class flare activity.