X1 Solar Flare, Coronal Wave with Possible Earth-directed CME

UPDATE – 17:59 UT – January 10, 2014 – Though there is still a chance for some geomagnetic effects from the CME it turned out to not be much of an event and we will most likely not see any increased activity. But there was still some great aurora near the arctic circle.


A photograph taken by Harald Albrigtsen on January 9, 2014 @ Kvaløya, Tromsø courtesy of spaceweather.com

20:44 UT – January 9, 2014 – CME is here! The coronal mass ejection (CME) was observed at the ACE spacecraft just upstream of Earth at 19:32 UTC (2:32 p.m. EST). Still too early to tell the magnetic structure but aurora watchers look out. A geomagnetic storm is still expected.

Solar wind measurements from the ACE spacecraft. The changes due to the CME are marked by a red oval. credit:NASA/ACE/NOAA

14:00 UT – January 9, 2014 – Observers are still waiting for the CME, which is slightly overdue. However, there are precursor indications that it is still on its way. (NOAA forecasters currently now estimate a G3 geomagnetic storm.) Here is a look at the energetic particles created by the Jan. 6 (back-sided) and Jan. 7 eruptions (Earth-directed). The snow you seen on the LASCO images is from high energy protons passing through the telescopes CCD. The eruptions quickly accelerated protons and electrons in their path.

2014-01-09 19_08_05

SOHO/LASCO C2 and C3 observations from Jan. 5, 2014 at 23:06 UT to Jan. 9, 2014 at 10:20 UT. SDO/AIA 304 images show the solar disk. Two solar energetic particles storms are shown from eruptions on Jan. 6 and Jan. 7. credit:ESA/NASA/SOHO/SDO/helioviewer

01:00 UT – January 7, 2014 – Fast CME Earth directed! with impact expected around 00:38 UT on Jan. 9, 2014. The CME, associated with the X1.2 flare, was clocked at ~2400 km/s. This is 8.6 million kph or 5.3 million mph. Estimates are for a geomagnetic storm up to moderate or severe (note this is the upper limit) so we could get some fantastic aurora! Here is the computer simulation from the NASA Space Weather Research Center. NOAA observers (the official US source for Earth-directed space weather) estimate a G2 geomagnetic storm. The eruption also created solar energetic particles resulting in a solar particle storm. NOAA issued an S2 particle storm warning.

19:15 UT – January 7, 2014 – Here is a video of the X-flare with a coronal wave sweeping southward. The wave indicates there is probably a CME and the regions location means there is a strong chance it is Earthward. Initial coronagraph data supports this but we await more data from SOHO and STEREO. The video uses 171 and 211 angstrom images.

19:00 UT – January 7, 2014 – X flare! AR11944 erupted producing an X1.2 flare peaking in X-rays at 18:31 UT. Here is a snapshot of the flare from the SDO/AIA in 171 and 94 angstrom channels, just before the flare’s peak.