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Shape-shifting sunspot 1271 harbors energy for M-class solar flares

August 24, 2011 Comments off

thewatchers.adorraeli.com

Every time you look, sunspot 1271 has a new outline. For the past two days the active region has been in a constant state of change, altering its shape on an hourly basis. Click on the image for 48 hours of shape-shifting:

These rapid changes have caused the sunspot’s magnetic field to criss-cross and tangle. The magnetic field now has a “beta-gamma” configuration that harbors energy for M-class solar flares. Any such flares today would be approximately Read more…

Two sunspots on the Sun currently pose a threat for x-class solar flares

August 19, 2011 Comments off

theweatherspace

Here we go again, this time two spots on the Sun turning toward our planet now that are capable of producing powerful X-Class flares.

Two sunspots are now rotating toward the planet over the face of the Sun. Sunspots 1271 and 1272 remain quiet but pose a threat for X-class solar flares.

X-class solar flares are the most powerful solar flare the Sun can produce, according to our planetary scale. These could produce radio and electrical blackouts as well as a brilliant display of aurora if they unleash powerful Earth-directed flares.

The last solar storms a week ago were from sunspots on the farside of the Sun now. They are still together and out of our view, Venus was seen in the same field of view as one blasted toward the planet on the far side of the Sun.

Stay tuned to the sunspots, it could ‘pop’ at anytime.

MAJOR SOLAR FLARE: August 9th, 2011.

August 9, 2011 Comments off

theweatherspace

This morning at 0805 UT, sunspot 1263 produced a powerful X7-class solar flare. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the explosion’s extreme ultraviolet flash.

The solar flare was not Earth directed but a minor proton storm is in progress around our planet, which could affect satellites.

Radiation from the flare also briefly disrupted communications on some VLF and HF radio frequencies.

We may get a glancing blow from the flare. Read more…

Intense Solar Flare Erupts From the Sun

August 2, 2011 Comments off

space

M-Class Solar Flare Solar Dynamics Observatory
A powerful M9-class solar flare erupted from the sun at 10:09 p.m. EDT on July 29 (0209 GMT July 30).
CREDIT: NASA/SDO

A powerful flare erupted from the sun this past weekend, but while the storm was not aimed directly at Earth, it was nearly the most powerful type of solar storm there is, scientists say.

The brief but strong solar flare occurred late Friday (July 29) at 10:09 p.m. EDT (0209 GMT July 30), and grew in intensity. The flare was followed by an unrelated geomagnetic storm, which was triggered by fluctuations in the solar wind, according to Spaceweather.com, a website that monitors space weather events.

As a result of the solar storm, skywatchers at high latitudes, particularly in the southern Read more…

Bastille Day Solar Storm: Anatomy of a Gargantuan Sun Tempest

July 15, 2011 Comments off

space

The "Bastille Day" solar flare as seen by SOHO's EIT instrument in the 195 Å emission line. CREDIT: NASA

One of the most violent sun storms in recorded history erupted 11 years ago today (July 14).

The event was called the Bastille Day Solar Storm, and it registered as an X-class flare, the highest designation possible. (One storm since then, in October 2003, was even more powerful.)

Ever wonder just how a solar storm brews? So do scientists. Here’s a rundown of what happened on July 14, 2000, one of the sun’s most violent days:

A sunspot was born. This occurred when magnetic field lines became tangled by the churning and shifting of plasma bubbles on the sun’s surface. These twisted magnetic field lines formed a sunspot — an active region that appeared darker than the surrounding area. [Infographic: Anatomy of Solar Storms & Flares]

As the magnetic field lines became more and more twisted, magnetic potential energy built up, similar to how a roller coaster car at the top of the track builds up gravitational potential energy, which is then converted to the kinetic energy of motion as the car zooms downward.

Sun's magnetic loops during Bastille Day storm,
One million degree hot solar plasma travels along magnetic loops in the sun’s atmosphere during the Bastille Day solar storm of 2000.
CREDIT: NASA/TRACE

When the magnetic potential energy of the sun finally hit a certain point, it snapped, releasing that energy in the form of heat, light and the motion of particles. Plasma on the sun was heated up to 20 million or 30 million degrees Kelvin (36 million to 54 million degrees Fahrenheit). Plasma particles were accelerated along giant loops that traced magnetic field lines down through successive layers of the sun’s atmosphere.

These loops connected to form large ribbons of superheated plasma.

At the same time, some plasma particles from the sun’s atmosphere were accelerated away from the surface, out into space. Such a release of material is called a coronal mass ejection. Many of these protons and electrons made their way to Earth, where they disrupted satellites and blocked radio communications.

Though scientists understand many aspects of the storm’s process, there are still some pressing questions. One of the biggest is: What sparked the storm in the first place? [Hell Unleashed: Sun Spits Fire in Close-Up]

“The holy grail, which is not solved yet, is, what is the actual trigger mechanism that causes this buildup of energy to be released?” said Phil Chamberlin, a solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.

However, the Bastille Day solar storm did go a long way toward helping scientists piece together a general theory of how eruptions on the sun occur.

“This theory is all based on observations from the Bastille Day flare,” Chamberlin told SPACE.com.

That knowledge will come in especially handy in the coming years, as the sun ramps up toward a peak in its 11-year cycle of activity. Near the end of 2013, we are likely to see storms that rival, or even surpass, the Bastille Day event.

Incoming Geomagnetic Storm Alert:C7-Flare/CME (June 21st, 2011).

June 21, 2011 Comments off

INCOMING: Magnetic fields above sunspot complex 1236 erupted during the early hours of June 21st, producing a C7-class solar flare and a full-halo CME. The expanding cloud appears to be heading almost directly toward Earth:

This does not appear to be an especially powerful CME. Nevertheless, the incoming cloud could trigger polar geomagnetic storms when it reaches Earth on or about June 23rd. The aurora outlook favors southern hemisphere observers, where solstice skies are winter-dark. Stay tuned for updates.

Sun Emitting Solar Flare

March 9, 2011 Comments off

Look at the size of that solar flare! Lots of activity on the way folks.

Get ready for a ‘global Katrina’: Biggest ever solar storm could cause power cuts which last for MONTHS

February 22, 2011 Comments off

David Derbyshire

www.dailymail.co.ukImminent: The world got a taster of the sun's explosive power last week with the strongest solar eruption in five years sent a torrent of charged plasma hurtling towards the world. Scientists believe we are overdue a ferocious solar storm

  • Earth is overdue a solar storm as the sun enters its most active period.

The world is overdue a ferocious ‘space storm’ that could knock out communications satellites, ground aircraft and trigger blackouts – causing hundreds of billions of pounds of damage, scientists say.

Astronomers today warned that mankind is now more vulnerable to a major solar storm than at any time in history – and that the planet should prepare for a global Katrina-style disaster.

A massive eruption of the sun would save waves of radiation and charged particles to Earth, damaging the satellite systems used for synchronizing computers, airline navigation and phone networks.

Imminent: The world got a taster of the sun’s explosive power last week with the strongest solar eruption in Read more…

Modern Society Threatened by Solar Storms

February 20, 2011 Comments off
Tuesday’s dramatic X-class solar flare triggered an Earth-bound CME, but the resulting solar storm wasn’t as powerful as expected.
NASA/SDO/AIA

 

The Earth just dodged a solar bullet. But it won’t be the last. Experts say a geomagnetic storm, sparked by a massive solar eruption similar to the one that flared toward the Earth on Tuesday, is bound to strike again, and the next one could wreak more havoc than the world has ever seen.

Modern society is increasingly vulnerable to space weather because of our dependence on satellite systems for synchronizing computers, navigational systems, telecommunications networks and other electronic devices.

A potent solar storm could disrupt these technologies, scorch satellites, crash stock markets and cause months-long power outages, experts said Saturday at the Read more…

Solar Flare Causes Problems for China’s Radio Communications

February 17, 2011 Comments off

A solar flare—the strongest one in four years—messed with China’s communications in the southern portion of the country over the past several days, according to media reports.

The recent, massive solar flare that was emitted by the sun on Tuesday caused a Read more…