Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Major Solar Flare and Gemomagnetic Storm Underway

Solar flares have erupted on the sun in the last 24 hours, making way for heavy geomagnetic storms that could cause massive radio blackouts if they haven't happened already.  Yahoo News has photos and video.

All of the following information was taken from

GEOMAGNETIC STORM UPDATE: A CME propelled toward Earth by this morning's X5-class solar flare is expected to reach our planet on March 8th at 0625 UT (+/- 7 hr). Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, who prepared the CME's forecast track, say the impact could spark a strong-to-severe geomagnetic storm. Sky watchers at all latitudes should be alert for auroras. Aurora alerts: text, phone.

A mild geomagnetic storm is already underway, following a lesser CME impact on March 7th around 0400 UT. Shortly after the cloud arrived, a burst of Northern Lights appeared over the US-Canadian border. Shawn Malone photographed the display from the shores of Lake Superior:

Big sunspot 1429 poses a continued threat for X-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI

"I was lucky to catch this brilliant outburst of aurora activity that was very active for close to an hour," says Malone, who has also made a time-lapse video of the display. "The aurora had no problem shining through the moonlit skies."

more images: from Eric Frigon of Banff National Park , Alberta, Canada; from John Welling of Ashland,Wisconsin; from Justin Phillips of New Auburn, Wisconsin; from Truls Tiller of Tromsø, Norway; from Stephen Voss of Sandy Point, New Zealand; from Olivier Du Tré of Cochrane, Alberta; from Manu Keggenhoff of Jake's Corner, Yukon, Canada; from Ed Stockard of Sun Mt Lodge, Methow Valley, Washington

MAJOR SOLAR FLARE (UPDATED): Big sunspot AR1429 has unleashed another major flare. This one is the strongest yet, an X5-class eruption on March 7th at 00:28 UT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme UV flash.

This eruption hurled a bright CME into space, shown here in a movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab estimate that the CME will reach Earth on March 8th at 0625 UT (+/- 7 hr), possibly triggering a strong-to-extreme geomagnetic storm. An animated forecast track shows the progression of the fast-moving cloud.

The flare also accelerated energetic protons toward Earth, triggering an S3-class solar radiation storm, in progress. Such a storm is mainly a nuisance to satellites, causing occasional reboots of onboard computers and adding noise to imaging systems.  
Solar flare alerts: text, phone.

Solar wind
speed: 287.1 km/sec
density: 1.7 protons/cm3
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 1448 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C2
1735 UT Mar07
24-hr: X5
0028 UT Mar07
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2200 UT

Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 4 unsettled
24-hr max: Kp= 6
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 10.7 nT
Bz: 6.2 nT north
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at 2245 UT 

 Coronal Holes: 07 Mar 12

A solar wind stream flowing from this coronal hole could reach Earth as early as March 8-9. Credit: SDO/AIA.

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