FARSIDE SOLAR ACTIVITY: Solar activity has been very low for more than two weeks. A change could be in the offing. During the early hours of August 3rd, a new active region on the farside of the sun announced itself with a bright CME. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) recorded the eruption:
The CME is not heading for Earth. It is billowing away from the sun’s farside, well off the sun-Earth line.
What’s next? Because the blast site is hidden behind the sun’s limb, we cannot yet inspect it and assess its potential for future eruptions. However, it should rotate into view in the days ahead, possibly bringing an end to two weeks of quiet.
This giant UFO was recorded by SOHO over the sun yesterday. It shows a massive disk over the sun, and if you look carefully, you will see a small stream of energy twisting and going up to the UFO. They are harvesting energy from the sun. Aliens may have high tech, but advanced civilizations with advanced tech has extremely high energy demands to meet. This is one way they get that need met. SCW
This is the Current Image from Lasco C3, it shows Jupiter to the left of the sun, It is too far away to be causing this anomaly. Jupiter is 500 million miles behind the sun also.
BRIGHT COMET DIVES INTO RADIATION STORM: A bright comet is diving into the sun. It was discovered just last week by SOHO’s SWAN instrument, so it has been named “Comet SWAN.” The comet’s death plunge ( or “swan dive”) comes just as the sun has unleashed a strong flare and radiation storm around Earth. SOHO images of the comet are confused to some degree by energetic protons striking the camera. Nevertheless, you can see Comet SWAN moving through the electronic “snow” in this updated 17 hour movie:
This is a Kreutz sungrazer, a fragment of the same ancient comet that produced sungrazing Comet Lovejoy in Dec. 2011. According to comet expert Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC, “Comet SWAN is one of the brightest Kreutz-group comets ever observed by SOHO, although not quite as bright as Comet Lovejoy.” Battams forecasts a peak magnitude of -1 for Comet SWAN, while Lovejoy was three magnitudes brighter at -4.
Will Comet SWAN survive its plunge through the sun’s atmosphere as Comet Lovejoy did? Probably not, but experts also said Comet Lovejoy would not survive, and they were happily wrong. Comet’s SWAN’s closest approach to the sun will likely come on March 14th.
RADIATION STORM: Accelerated by Friday’s X-flare, energetic protons from the sun are still swarming around Earth on Jan. 29th. The radiation storm ranks S2 on NOAA scales, which means it is not a severe storm. Nevertheless, it can still affect spacecraft and satellites at the nuisance level. Click on the image for an animated demonstration:
That was a coronagraph image from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO). The many speckles and streaks are energetic protons striking SOHO’s onboard digital camera. Stronger radiation storms (S4 to S5) can fill images like these with “snow,” rendering them useless for normal operations. The current storm will probably subside later today and restore SOHO’s clear view of the sun.
ALMOST-X FLARE AND CME (UPDATED): This morning, Jan. 23rd around 0359 UT, big sunspot 1402 erupted, producing a long-duration M9-class solar flare. The explosion’s M9-ranking puts it on the threshold of being an X-flare, the most powerful kind. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the flare’s extreme ultraviolet flash:
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA’s STEREO-B spacecraft detected a CME rapidly emerging from the blast site: movie. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the leading edge of the CME will reach Earth on Jan. 24 at 14:18UT (+/- 7 hours). Their animated forecast track shows that Mars is in the line of fire, too; the CME will hit the Red Planet during the late hours of Jan. 25.
This is a relatively substantial and fast-moving (2200 km/s) CME. Spacecraft in geosynchronous, polar and other orbits passing through Earth’s ring current and auroral regions could be affected by the cloud’s arrival. In addition, strong geomagnetic storms are possible, so high-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras
RADIATION STORM IN PROGRESS: Solar protons accelerated by this morning’s M9-class solar flare are streaming past Earth. On the NOAA scale of radiation storms, this one ranks S3, which means it could, e.g., cause isolated reboots of computers onboard Earth-orbiting satellites and interfere with polar radio communications. An example of satellite effects: The “snow” in this SOHO coronagraph movie is caused by protons hitting the observatory’s onboard camera.
DOUBLE ERUPTION: On October 1st around 10:17 UT, widely-spaced sunspots 1302 and 1305 erupted in quick succession, revealing a long-distance entanglement which was not obvious before. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the double blast:
Since it was launched in 2010, SDO has observed many “entangled eruptions.” Active regions far apart but linked by magnetic fields can explode one after another, with disturbances spreading around the stellar surface domino-style. Saturday’s eruption appears to be the latest example.
The part of the eruption centered on sunspot 1305 hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. The relatively slow-moving (500 km/s) cloud is expected to reach our planet on Oct. 4th or 5th, possibly causing geomagnetic storms when it arrives. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.
CHANCE OF FLARES: Sunspot 1302, quiet now for three days, still has a ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field that harbors energy for X-class flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of such eruptions today. X-flare alerts:text,voice.
SOLAR WIND BLASTS MERCURY: At a NASA teleconference yesterday, researchers working with data from the Messenger spacecraft offered new evidence that gusts of solar wind are penetrating Mercury’s magnetic field and eroding material off the planet’s surface. The spacecraft has actually flown through plumes of ionized sodium scoured from the surface and escaping from weak points in Mercury’s magnetosphere. Click here and scroll down to “Presenter #4” for relevant data and images.
Another “scouring event” could be in the offing. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) observed two farside CMEs on Sept 29th, and one of them is heading for the innermost planet:
Using observations from SOHO and the twin STEREO spacecraft, analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab have modeled the trajectory of these CMEs. The one on the left should hit Mercury on October 1st at 02:13 UT +/- 7 hours. Forewarned, mission scientists for the Messenger probe can be attentive to the CME’s arrival and observe its effects on Mercury.
According to the CME’s forecast track, the cloud will hit Venus later the same day. The ability to forecast CME impacts on other planets is a new development in space weather forecasting made possible by NASA’s deployment of spacecraft around the full circumference of the sun.
MERCURY-DIRECTED CME: On Sept 8th around 2300 UT, the SOHO and STEREO spacecraft detected a significant CME emerging from the farside of the sun. Earth is not in the line of fire, but the planet Mercury is. Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab estimate that the cloud will reach the innermost planet on Sept. 9th at 12:00 UT (plus minus 7 hours). Click to view a movie of their CME model:
NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft is in orbit around Mercury, so it will have a front row seat for the impact. Researchers are keen to learn how Mercury’s magnetosphere responds to CMEs. In particular, they wonder if CMEs can overpower Mercury’s magnetic field and sputter atoms right off the planet’s surface. Thanks to the Goddard forecast, MESSENGER’s controllers know the CME is coming, and they can prepare to observe the impact.
Interplanetary space weather forecasting is a new thing. It became possible in 2010-2011 when NASA and ESA spacecraft surrounded the sun. Working together, SOHO, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, STEREO-A and STEREO-B now have the entire star under surveillance. CMEs can be tracked no matter where they go, which means space weather isn’t just for Earth anymore.