Last night one of the strongest geomantic storms in years hit the earth. A large x-class solar flare over the weekend launched a CME or Coronal Mass ejection which gave the earth a indirect hit last night. Here are just some of the amazing shots sent into Space weather.com
SUBSIDING STORM: A severe geomagnetic storm (Kp=7-8) that began yesterday when a CME hit Earth’s magnetic field is subsiding. At the peak of the disturbance, auroras were sighted around both poles and in more than five US states including Michigan, New York, South Dakota, Maine, and Minnesota:
“The evening started off beautifully here in northeast Minnesota,” says Travis Novitsky, who photographed the display from Grand Portage. “Almost as soon as it was dark we were seeing tall columns of green and red light. It was brief, yet spectacular!”
After going 4 years without an x-flare we have seen 2 in just the past month. Late yesterday March 9th earth orbiting satellites detected an X1.5-class solar flare which originated from sunspot 1166 around 2323 UTC. This image below in from NASA’s SDO showing the blast.
It does appear that a Coronal Mass Ejections or CME for short was propelled towards Earth. These measurements are preliminary and NASA will be collecting more data from both the Stereo-B space craft and the SDO to determine what impact we might see on Earth.
Here’s a look at the Solar X-ray Flux showing that there was a peak late yesterday into the X-class range.
Here’s a look at the current space weather forecast from NOAA. It’s too early to tell what kind of impacts this could have on our magnetic field but this was a smaller flare than the x-flare in February. I wouldn’t expect anything too major, but larger flares are still possible from any of the sunspots currently on the sun. There is more information about the type and scales of radio, geomagnetic and radiation storms on the NOAA Space Weather page.
www.spaceweather.com contributed to this post.
This morning sunspot 1158 unleashed the strongest Solar Flare in over 4 years. The sun had been amazingly quiet over the past several years. The current solar cycle bottomed out and it looks like this un is about to start becoming active again. This mornings flare was pretty amazing. Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big; they are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized; they can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.
Here’s is what was posted this morning on Spaceweather.com. The eruption, which peaked at 0156 UT on Feb. 15th, registered X2 on the Richter scale of solar flares. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded an intense flash of extreme ultraviolet radiation, circled below:
X-flares are the strongest type of solar flare, and this is the first such eruption of new Solar Cycle 24. In addition to flashing Earth with UV radiation, the explosion also hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) in our direction. The expanding cloud may be seen in this movie from NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft. Geomagnetic storms are possible when the CME arrives 36 to 48 hours hence. Stay tuned for updates.
This stuff while fascinating is also kind of disruptive. Since the sun has been so inactive over the past 4 years or so. We forget what these geomagnetic storms can do. They disrupt radio, satellite, power grids and all sorts of electronic devices. Which now are much more prevalent and relied upon even than they were just 4 years ago. Think of what impact this flare and larger flares could have on cellular networks, GPS and communication satellites. Time will tell what will happen but one awesome side effect are these amazing Aurora Borealis at higher latitudes and even some times at mid and low latitudes.
More Great information can be found at these links.
www.swpc.noaa.gov (Space Weather Prediction Center)
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/stereo/main/index.html NASA Sun in 3-D