Solar WHAM on Its Way

WEEKEND SOLAR FLARE: Sunspot AR1429 is still erupting this weekend. On Saturday, March 10th, it produced a powerful M8-class flare that almost crossed the threshold into X-territory. During the flare, New Mexico amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded a series of radio bursts at 21 and 28 MHz:

Dynamic spectrum courtesy Wes Greenman, Alachua County, Florida

The roaring sounds you just heard are caused by shock waves plowing through the sun’s atmosphere in the aftermath of the explosion. “There is incredible complexity in the waveforms,” notes Ashcraft. “This is a recording of one of the most turbulent events in all of Nature!”

In addition, the explosion propelled yet another CME toward Earth. According to a forecast track prepared by analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab, the cloud will hit our planet’s magnetosphere on March 12th at 1803 UT (+/- 7 hr), possibly sparking a new round of geomagnetic storms.

After passing Earth, the CME will also hit the Mars Science Lab (MSL) spacecraft on March 13th followed by Mars itself on March 14th. Mars rover Curiosity onboard MSL might get some interesting readings as the cloud passes by.