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Reporting System

Sunspot Region 1402 Unleashes X2 Class Flare, Not Earth-Directed

X-FLARE: Departing sunspot 1402 unleashed an X2-class solar flare on Jan. 27th at 18:37 UT. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash.

Sunspot 1402 is rotating onto the far side of the sun, so the blast site was not facing Earth. Nevertheless, energetic protons accelerated by the blast are now surrounding our planet, and an S2-class radiation storm is in progress.

The explosion also produced a spectacular coronal mass ejection (CME). A movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory shows the cloud raced away from the sun at 2500 km/s or 5.6 million mph. Update: Work by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab shows that the CME will just miss Earth when its edge passes by our planet on Jan. 30-31.

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January 28, 2012 Posted by | Radiation, Solar, Space | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Geomagnetic Storm Brings Amazing Show of Aurora Borealis

Northern Lapland, Finland. Credit: Andy Keen

STORM RECAP: As expected, a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field on Jan. 24th at approximately 1500 UT (10 am EST). The impact produced a G1-class geomagnetic storm and bright auroras around the Arctic Circle.

Even veteran aurora watchers were impressed. “This was one of the best displays that I’ve ever seen, and I mean ever in over 5000 hours on the ice,” says Andy Keen of Finland. “It was, in short, truly spectacular and something that will live with me for a lifetime.” In the Abisko National Park of Sweden, aurora tour guide Chad Blakely contributed a similar report: “Eight tourists and I were treated to one of the most wonderful displays I have ever seen. The auroras began as we were eating dinner and continued into the very early hours of the morning. Words can not describe the excitement we shared.”

The storm subsided as it crossed the Atlantic and petered out almost completely by the time it reached North America.  Aurora alerts: textvoice.

…(Space Weather)

SUBSIDING STORM: A geomagnetic storm caused by Monday’s M9-class solar flare and Tuesday’s CME impact is over. The aurora watch is cancelled for all but the higher latitudes around the Arctic Circle.

The geomagnetic field was quiet to major storm on January 24.

Solar wind speed ranged between 347 and 732 km/s. A strong solar wind shock was observed at SOHO at 14:34 UTC, the arrival of the CMEs observed early on January 23. The geomagnetic disturbance peaked 17-20h UTC when the planetary A index reached 80. The radiation storm peaked at the arrival of the CMEs with the above 10 MeV proton flux reaching a high of 6310 pfu, the strongest radiation event since 2003.

…(Solen.info)

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Radiation, Solar | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Introduction Into Solar Eruptions

The sun erupted on January 22-23, 2012 with an M8.7 class flare, captured here in a movie by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

Solar flares are giant explosions on the sun that send energy, light and high speed particles into space. These flares are often associated with solar magnetic storms known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs). While these are the most common solar events, the sun can also emit streams of very fast protons — known as solar energetic particle (SEP) events — and disturbances in the solar wind known as corotating interaction regions (CIRs). All of these can produce a variety of “storms” on Earth that can — if strong enough — interfere with short wave radio communications, GPS signals, and Earth’s power grid, among other things.

The amount of solar activity increases approximately every 11 years, and the sun is currently moving toward another solar maximum, likely in 2013. That means more flares will be coming, some small and some big enough to send their radiation all the way to Earth.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has devised categories for the flares and various storms. The biggest flares are known as “X-class flares” based on a classification system that divides solar flares according to their strength. The smallest ones are A-class (near background levels), followed by B, C, M, and X. Similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. So an X is ten times an M and 100 times a C. Within each letter class there is a finer scale from 1 to 9.

C-class and smaller flares are too weak to noticeably affect Earth. M-class flares can cause brief radio blackouts at the poles and minor radiation storms that might endanger astronauts. And then come the X-class flares. Although X is the last letter, there are flares more than 10 times the power of an X1, so X-class flares can go higher than 9. The most powerful flare measured with modern methods was in 2003, during the last solar maximum, and it was so powerful that it overloaded the sensors measuring it. The sensors cut out at X15, but the flare was estimated to be as high as an X28.

The biggest X-class flares are by far the largest explosions in the solar system and are awesome to watch. Loops tens of times the size of Earth leap up off the sun’s surface when the sun’s magnetic fields cross over each other and reconnect. In the biggest events, this reconnection process can produce as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs. As the sun moves towards its next solar maximum and heats up, we are already seeing an increase in activity. The first X-class flare of the current solar cycle erupted on February 15, 2011, and there were more over the summer.

On January 23, 2012, the sun unleashed an M8.7 flare followed by a CME and an SEP that created one of the strongest radiation storms since ’05.

…(Science Daily)

January 25, 2012 Posted by | Radiation, Solar | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Reactor Fallout

December 19, 2011 – Impact Seen As Roughly Comparable to Radiation-Related Deaths After Chernobyl; Infants Are Hardest Hit, With Continuing Research Showing Even Higher Possible Death Count. An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services.

This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima.Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. The IJHS article will be published Tuesday and will be available online as of 11 a.m. EST at http://www.radiation.org .

Subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S. he highest detected levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation in the U.S. were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water): Boise, ID (390); Kansas City (200); Salt Lake City (190); Jacksonville, FL (150); Olympia, WA (125); and Boston, MA (92).

…(International Journal of Health)

December 19, 2011 Posted by | Radiation | , , , , , , | Leave a comment