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Sunspot Region 1402 Unleashes M9 Class Flare with Earth-Directed CME

ALMOST-X FLARE AND CME (UPDATED): This morning, Jan. 23rd around 0359 UT, big sunspot 1402 erupted, producing a long-duration M9-class solar flare. The explosion’s M9-ranking puts it on the threshold of being an X-flare, the most powerful kind. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the flare’s extreme ultraviolet flash:

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft detected a CME rapidly emerging from the blast site: movie. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth on Jan. 24 at 14:18UT (+/- 7 hours). Their animated forecast track shows that Mars is in the line of fire, too; the CME will hit the Red Planet during the late hours of Jan. 25. Aurora alerts: textvoice.

This is a relatively substantial and fast-moving (2200 km/s) CME. Spacecraft in geosynchronous, polar and other orbits passing through Earth’s ring current and auroral regions could be affected by the cloud’s arrival. In addition, strong geomagnetic storms are possible, so high-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. Magnetic storm alerts: textvoice.

RADIATION STORM IN PROGRESS: Solar protons accelerated by this morning’s M9-class solar flare are streaming past Earth. On the NOAA scale of radiation storms, this one ranks S3, which means it could, e.g., cause isolated reboots of computers onboard Earth-orbiting satellites and interfere with polar radio communications. An example of satellite effects: The “snow” in this SOHO coronagraph movie is caused by protons hitting the observatory’s onboard camera.

…(Space Weather)

January 23, 2012 Posted by | Solar, Space | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunspot Region 1402 Unleashes M3 Class Flare with Earth-Directed CME

EARTH-DIRECTED SOLAR FLARE: Active sunspot 1402 erupted today, Jan. 19th, between 15:15 and 16:30 UT. The long-duration blast produced an M3-class solar flare and a CME that appears to be heading toward Earth. This movie from the Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the extreme UV flash:

NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft recorded an impressive CME emerging from the blast site: movie #1movie #2. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab confirm that the CME is heading for Earth, and they say strong geomagnetic storms are possible (although not guaranteed) when the cloud arrives this weekend. Theiranimated forecast track predicts an impact on Jan. 21st at 22:30 UT (+/- 7 hrs). Aurora alerts: textvoice.

INCREASING SOLAR ACTIVITY CLEANS UP SAT-DEBRIS: Earth’s atmosphere has been puffing up in response to increasing levels of UV radiation from sunspots. This is good news for satellite operators, because a puffed up atmosphere helps clean up low-Earth orbit. “The number of cataloged debris in Earth orbit actually decreased during 2011,” reports Nick Johnson in NASA’s Orbital Debris Quarterly newsletter.

…(Space Weather)

January 20, 2012 Posted by | Solar, Space | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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