Archive for Solar Storms

The Small Storm Before the Big Storm?

UPDATE #4 (13:30 UT 9/13)) – The storm is subsiding but beautiful aurora were had by many. Even down to the northern US like Maine. “I took the picture from Casco, Maine, facing north towards the Presidential Range in New Hampshire,” says photographer John Stetson. “Red, purple, green, blue–all the colors were there!” Credit: John Stetson and shared by spaceweather.com

Aurora captured by John Stetson in Quaker Ridge, Casco, Maine facing north towards the Presidential Range in NH. shared at spaceweather.com

Aurora captured by John Stetson in Quaker Ridge, Casco, Maine facing north towards the Presidential Range in NH. shared at spaceweather.com

UPDATE # 3 (22:00 UT) – Towards the end of 9/12 Kp index reached 7 or G3 geomagnetic storm level. Here is the current Ovation auroral model. The image shows both where the aurora is most likely to be observed as well as how bright it might be. The oval will start of cover more of North America as the night goes on. Aurora might be seen down to areas like Illinois, the mid-Atlantic states, Canada and Northern Europe.

An Ovation Auroral Model map for the Northern Hemisphere.

An Ovation Auroral Model map for the Northern Hemisphere.

UPDATE #2 (18:30 UT) – As of 17:40 UT (1:40 pm EDT) we reached a Kp index of 6 or G2 storm.

UPDATE #1 (18:00 UT) – The CME shock reached Earth just before noon EDT. The total magnetic field increased to a strong 28 nT, with the Bz or North/South component oscillating between a moderate -13 and +20 nT. As the CME passes Earth, there is a chance that Bz could turn steady southward and thus become more geo-effective. A negative Bz or strong southward component allows more energy to flow into the magnetosphere greatly increasing the possibility of the stronger (G3) storm.

A geomagnetic storm up to about G2 is expected later today (9/12) and the storm level is predicted to increase to G3 level into tomorrow. If the storm reaches G3, aurora could be seen down to areas like Illinois and mid-Atlantic states. G2 is more like Idaho and New York State.

Hopefully, the show has only begun! (Weekend Aurora in the Forecast!)

Aurora were seen from Alaska and Northern Canada down to the northern US. Here is a corona aurora from Fairbanks, Alaska captured by JN Hall and an aurora in Munger, MN, USA by Matthew Moses, both shared through spaceweather.com. The first (smaller event) hit last night and now we wait for the larger, more direct impact from the CME associated with the X1.6 flare (earlier post.) NOAA has predicted a G3 geomagnetic storm for late Sept. 12 or early Sept. 13. So, there may be some spectacular lights to come.

 

Aurora taken by JN Hall on September 12, 2014 in Fairbanks, AK, US. The photo was shared on spaceweather.com

Aurora taken by JN Hall on September 12, 2014 in Fairbanks, AK, US. The photo was shared on spaceweather.com

Aurora taken by Matthew Moses on September 11, 2014 in Munger, MN, USA. Shared by spaceweather.com

Aurora taken by Matthew Moses on September 11, 2014 in Munger, MN, USA. Shared by spaceweather.com

The CME from the 9th reached the ACE spacecraft at 22:56 UT. Here is a look at the change in the solar wind at ACE due to the current CME impact.

The solar wind parameters (e.g. density, speed, etc) at ACE changed abruptly due to the CME from Sept. 9 passing the spacecraft.

The solar wind parameters (e.g. density, speed, etc) at ACE changed abruptly due to the CME from Sept. 9 passing the spacecraft.

The CME reached Earth at 23:46 UT. The Kp index reached 5, the G1 geomagnetic storm level (NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions are found at www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales.) NOAA predicted a G2 (Kp=6) but that level was never reached.

Kp IndexAs we can see from the aurora photos above, that was enough to stir up some nice aurora. But it is probably not over.  The CME associated with the X1.6 (earlier post) will probably reach us around midday on the 12th though errors in the estimates could mean it will be here several hours earlier or later. More geomagnetic storms and aurora should follow. Stay Tuned!

credit: NASA/ACE/NOAA/spaceweather.com/J. Hall/M. Moses

A Dazzling Eruption Captured by STEREO Behind

SDO and SOHO were not the only spacecraft to capture the spectacular eruption off the East (left) limb of the sun on August 24, 2014. The M5.9 flare (at 12:17 UT) from AR 12151 was seen by the STEREO SECCHI EUVI instrument but more notable was the beautiful prominence eruption observed with the STEREO COR1 coronagraph. Some of the material left the sun as a coronal mass ejection or CME but if you look closely you can seen some of the material falling back towards the solar surface. Some of the erupting material did not have enough energy to escape the sun’s massive gravity so it was pulled back down.

This amazing eruption did not have any direct impact on Earth (because it was off to the side) other than a minor radio blackout caused by the UV and X-ray light from the solar flare.

credit: NASA/STEREO

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.