Category: Solar Activity


Space Weather

by Dr. Tony Phillips.

SOLAR ‘MINI-MAX':

Last month at the Space Weather Workshop in Boulder, Colorado, solar cycle expert Doug Biesecker of NOAA announced that “Solar Maximum is here, finally.” According to his analysis, the sunspot number for Solar Cycle 24 is near its peak right now.

Spoiler: It’s not very impressive. “This solar cycle continues to rank among the weakest on record,” says Workshop attendee Ron Turner of Analytic Services, Inc. To illustrate the point, he plotted the smoothed sunspot number of Cycle 24 vs. the previous 23 cycles since 1755:

In the composite plot, Cycle 24 is traced in red. Only a few cycles since the 18th century have have had lower sunspot counts. For this reason, many researchers have started calling the ongoing peak a “Mini-Max.”

“By all Earth-based measures of geomagnetic and geoeffective solar activity, this cycle has been extremely quiet,” notes Turner. “However, Doug Biesecker has presented several charts showing that most large events such as strong flares and significant geomagnetic storms occur in the declining phase of the solar cycle.”

In other words, there is still a chance for significant solar activity in the months and years ahead. Let’s just hope it is not too significant.

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Earth Watch Report  –  Solar Activity

 

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Space Weather

by Dr. Tony Phillips.

CORONAL CANYON:

Today, the sun’s atmosphere is split down the middle by a canyon-shaped coronal hole. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory photographed the chasm, which is almost directly facing Earth:

Coronal holes are places where the sun’s magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. This hole is straddling the sun’s equator so the solar wind stream emerging from it will intersect Earth’s orbit. ETA: May 16-17. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras on those dates.

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Solar Activity

 

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Space Weather

by Dr. Tony Phillips.

SOUTHERN CORONAL HOLE:

Imagine what it would be like if, from time to time, a hole opened up in Earth’s atmosphere and air went blowing out into space. On the sun, this happens all the time. The openings are called “coronal holes.” NASA’s Solar Dynamics Obervatory is monitoring one right now; it is the dark wedge-shaped region in this extreme ultraviolet image of the sun’s southern hemisphere:

Coronal holes are places in the sun’s atmosphere where the magnetic field bends back and allows gas to escape. From such openings, solar wind blows out into space. A stream of solar wind flowing from this particular coronal hole could reach Earth on May 11-12, sparking auroras when it arrives. On the other hand, the stream might sail south of our planet, delivering only a glancing blow. Stay tuned for updates.

 

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Huge square-shaped ‘coronal hole’ spotted on Sun (VIDEO)

Published time: May 13, 2014 12:00

NASA / SDO / GODDARD SPACE CENTER

NASA / SDO / GODDARD SPACE CENTER

A gigantic square hole has been video-captured on the Sun’s surface by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). The particularly large monstrosity, known as a “coronal hole”, is an indicator of solar winds ejected out of the star at insane speeds.

 

Read More and Watch Video Here

 

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 Space Weather. com

by Dr. Tony Phillips.

RADIO BLACKOUT:

An X-class solar flare on April 25th irradiated Earth’s upper atmosphere with extreme ultraviolet radiation. Waves of ionization rippled around the dayside of the planet, causing a widespread blackout of shortwave radio transmissions. Radio astronomer Dick Flagg recorded the event at his observatory at the Windward Community College on Oahu:

“This is a dynamic spectrum,” explains Flagg. “The vertical axis is frequency (MHz) and the horizontal axis is time (UTC).” All of the horizontal lines corresponding to terrestrial radio stations vanished in the aftermath of the flare.

The active region responsible for the flare rotated off the solar disk yesterday, so even if it flares again, another radio blackout is unlikely this weekend. NOAA forecasters estimate the odds of an X-flare on April 26th to be a scant 1%.

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Space .com

Sun Unleashes Major Solar Flare (Video)

An X1.3-class solar flare (far right) erupts from the surface of the sun on April 24, 2014 EDT  (April 25 GMT).

An X1.3-class solar flare (far right) erupts from the surface of the sun on April 24, 2014 EDT (April 25 GMT).
Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

X-class flares top the scale with the most energy and potential to disrupt communications on Earth.

X-class flares top the scale with the most energy and potential to disrupt communications on Earth. See how solar flares compare to each other in this Space.com inforgraphic.
Credit: Karl Tate, SPACE.com Contributor

 

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by Dr. Tony Phillips.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

March 20, 2014

Laila Kearney

Fierce solar blasts that could have badly damaged electrical grids and disabled satellites in space narrowly missed Earth in 2012, researchers say.

 

The bursts would have wreaked havoc on the Earth’s magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet. That blast knocked out the telegraph system across the United States, according to University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann.

 

“Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” Luhmann said.

 

A series of images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory show the first moments of an X-class significant solar flare in different wavelengths of light. Flares are often related to coronal mass ejections.A series of images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory show the first moments of an X-class significant solar flare in different wavelengths of light. Flares are often related to coronal mass ejections. Photo: Reuters

 

A 2013 study estimated a solar storm like the Carrington Event could take a $US2.6 trillion bite out of the current global economy.

 

Massive bursts of solar wind and magnetic fields, shot into space on July 23, 2012, would have been aimed directly at Earth if they had happened nine days earlier, Luhmann said.

 

Read More and Watch Video Here

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Earth Watch Report  –  Solar Activity

 

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Space Weather

by Dr. Tony Phillips.

GROWING CHANCE OF FLARES:

Sunspot AR2002 poses a growing threat for solar flares. Since the week began, the active region has more than tripled in size. It now has more than a dozen dark cores and sprawls across 100,000 km of solar terrain. Karzaman Ahmad sends this picture from the Langkawi National Observatory in Malaysia:

“AR2002 is so large,” says Ahmad, “that I was able to photograph it using an ordinary 11-inch Celestron telescope capped with a Thousand Oaks Glass Filter.” The exceptionally crisp image shows thousands of boiling granules surrounding the sunspot’s dark cores. Each granule is about the size of Texas.

A 48-hour movie from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot’s development:

The rapid growth of AR2002 has destabilized its magnetic field, which makes it more likely to erupt. NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of M-class flares and a 15% chance of X-class flares during the next 24 hours.

 

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LiveScience

Sun Unleashes Monster Solar Flare, Biggest of 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun fired off a major solar flare late Monday (Feb. 24), making it the most powerful sun eruption of the year so far and one of the strongest in recent years.

 

The massive X4.9-class solar flare erupted from an active sunspot, called AR1990,  at 7:49 p.m. EST (0049 Feb. 25 GMT). NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured high-definition video of the monster solar flare. The spaceecraft recording amazing views the solar flare erupting with a giant burst of plasma, called a coronal mass ejection, or CME.

 

 

Earth isn’t in danger from the latest eruption of space weather activity, according to officials with Spaceweather.com, which tracks space weather and stargazing events. Sunspot AR1990 (previously named AR1967) is located on the southeastern limb of the sun, pointed away from Earth. This is the third time this sunspot has rotated onto the Earth-facing side of the sun. [Photos: The Biggest Solar Flares of 2014]

 

X4.9 Solar Flare of Feb. 24/25 2014
A giant solar flare, an X4.9-class sun storm, erupts from the sun at 00:49 GMT on Tuesday, Feb. 25 (7:49 p.m. Monday, Feb. 24 EST). This image of the flare was captured by NASA’s sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory.
Credit: NASA/SDO

 

“Long-lived sunspot AR1967 returned to the Earthside of the sun on Feb. 25th and promptly erupted, producing an X4.9-class solar flare,” astronomer Tony Phillips wrote in a Spaceweather.com alert. “This is the strongest flare of the year so far and one of the strongest of the current solar cycle.”

 

Read More Here

 

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Space Weather

by Dr. Tony Phillips.

X-FLARE!

Long-lived sunspot AR1967 returned to the Earthside of the sun on Feb. 25th and promptly erupted, producing an X4.9-class solar flare.  This is the strongest flare of the year so far and one of the strongest of the current solar cycle. A movie from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the explosion hurling a loop of hot plasma away from the blast site:

Coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory tracked this material as it raced away from the sun, eventually forming a bright CME, pictured below.. Radio emissions from shock waves at the leading edge of the CME suggest an expansion velocity near 2000 km/s or 4.4 million mph. If such a fast-moving cloud did strike Earth, the resulting geomagnetic storms could be severe. However, because its trajectory is so far off the sun-Earth line, the CME will deliver a no more than a glancing blow. NOAA forecasters expect a weak impact late in the day on Feb. 26th.

The source of the eruption is long-lived sunspot AR1967, now beginning its third trip across the Earthside of the sun. This region was an active producer of flares during its previous transits, and it looks like the third time will be no different. By tradition, sunspots are renumbered each time they return, so AR1967 has been given a new name, AR1990. After today, that is what we will call it

 

 

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BPEarthWatch BPEarthWatch

 

Published on Feb 17, 2014

The sun releashes an earth facing filament. CME ALERT.
Solar and Quake links http://www.Bpearthwatch.com

 

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Space Weather

by Dr. Tony Phillips.

 

‘RADIOACTIVE’ ERUPTION:

On Feb. 17th at approximately 04:50 UT, a magnetic filament erupted from the sun’s western limb. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this high-resolution image of the blast:

Because of its location on the sun’s western limb, the eruption did not send a CME toward Earth. However, there was an effect on our planet: Shortwave radio loudspeakers roared with static, an event called a Type II radio burst.

Here’s how it works: The explosion sent shock waves rippling through the sun’s atmosphere. Those shock waves, in turn, triggered plasma instabilities in the solar corona that emit strong radio emissions. The static-y “roar” of the explosion was picked up by solar observatories and ham radio stations across the dayside of our planet. Based on the sweep of radio frequencies from 20 MHz to 500 MHz, analysts estimate a shock velocity of 776 km/s or 1.7 million mph. That may sound fast, but it is typical for this type of eruption. 

 

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Forget global warming, worry about the MAGNETOSPHERE: Earth’s magnetic field is collapsing and it could affect the climate and wipe out power grids

  • Earth’s magnetic field has weakened by 15 per cent over the last 200 years
  • Could be a sign that the planet’s north and south poles are about to flip
  • If this happens, solar winds could punch holes into the Earth’s ozone layer
  • This could damage power grids, affect weather and increase cancer rates
  • Evidence of flip happening in the past has been uncovered in pottery
  • As the magnetic shield weakens, the spectacle of an aurora would be visible every night all over the Earth

By Ellie Zolfagharifard

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Deep within the Earth, a fierce molten core is generating a magnetic field capable of defending our planet against devastating solar winds.

The protective field extends thousands of miles into space and its magnetism affects everything from global communication to animal migration and weather patterns.

But this magnetic field, so important to life on Earth, has weakened by 15 per cent over the last 200 years. And this, scientists claim, could be a sign that the Earth’s poles are about to flip.

The Earth's protective field extends thousands of miles into space and its magnetism affects everything from global communication to animal migration and weather patterns

The Earth’s protective field extends thousands of miles into space and its magnetism affects everything from global communication to animal migration and weather patterns

Experts believe we’re currently overdue a flip, but they’re unsure when this could occur.

If a switch happens, we would be exposed to solar winds capable of punching holes into the ozone layer.

The impact could be devastating for mankind, knocking out power grids, radically changing Earth’s climate and driving up rates of cancer.

‘This is serious business’, Richard Holme, Professor of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences at Liverpool University told MailOnline. ‘Imagine for a moment your electrical power supply was knocked out for a few months – very little works without electricity these days.’

 The Earth’s climate would change drastically. In fact, a recent Danish study believes global warming is directly related to the magnetic field rather than CO2 emissions.

The study claimed that the planet is experiencing a natural period of low cloud cover due to fewer cosmic rays entering the atmosphere.

Radiation at ground level would also increase, with some estimates suggesting overall exposure to cosmic radiation would double causing more deaths from cancer.

Researchers predict that in the event of a flip, every year a hundred thousand people would die from the increased levels of space radiation.

‘Radiation could be 3-5 times greater than that from the man-made ozone holes. Furthermore, the ozone holes would be larger and longer-lived,’ said Dr Colin Forsyth from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at UCL.

The magnetosphere is a large area around the Earth produced by the planet's magnetic field. It presence means that charged particles of the solar wind are unable to cross the magnetic field lines and are deflected around the Earth

The magnetosphere is a large area around the Earth produced by the planet’s magnetic field. It presence means that charged particles of the solar wind are unable to cross the magnetic field lines and are deflected around the Earth

The magnetosphere is a large area around the Earth produced by the planet’s magnetic field. It presence means that charged particles of the solar wind are unable to cross the magnetic field lines and are deflected around the Earth.

Space agencies are now taking the threat seriously. In November, three spacecraft were launched as part of the SWARM mission to uncover how the Earth’s magnetic field is changing.

The mission plans to provide better maps of our planet’s magnetic field and help scientists understand the impact of space weather on satellite communication and GPS.

‘Whilst we have a basic understanding of the interior of the Earth, there is much we still don’t know,’ said Dr Forsyth.

‘We do not fully understand how the Earth’s magnetic field is generated, why it is variable and the timescales of these variations.’

The mission will provide a current map of Earth’s magnetic field. But historic evidence of its decline has already been found in a surprising source – ancient pottery.

Scientists have discovered that ancient pots can act as a magnetic time capsule. This is because they contain an iron-based mineral called magnetite. When pots form, the magnetite minerals align with the Earth’s magnetic field, just like compass needles.

WHAT IS GEOMAGNETIC REVERSAL?

Geomagnetic reversal

The Earth’s magnetic field is in a permanent state of change. Magnetic north drifts around and every few hundred thousand years the polarity flips so a compass would point south instead of north. The strength of the magnetic field also constantly changes and currently it is showing signs of significant weakening.

The Earth magnetic field is mainly generated in the very hot molten core of the planet. The magnetic field is basically a dipole (it has a North and a South Pole). Magnetic reversal or flip is the process by which the North Pole is transformed into the South and vice versa, typically following a considerable reduction in the strength of the magnetic field. However, weakening of the magnetic field does not always result in a reversal.

During a reversal, scientists expect to see more complicated field pattern at the Earth’s surface, with perhaps more than one North and South Pole at any given time. The overall strength of the field, anywhere on the Earth, may be no more than a tenth of its strength now.

The Earth's magnetic field is generated in the very hot molten core of the planet. Scientists believe Mars used to have a magnetic field similar to that on Earth which protected its atmosphere

The Earth’s magnetic field is generated in the very hot molten core of the planet. Scientists believe Mars used to have a magnetic field similar to that on Earth which protected its atmosphere

By examining pottery from prehistory to modern times, scientists have discovered just how dramatically the field has changed in the last few centuries.

They’ve found that Earth’s magnetic field is in a permanent state of flux. Magnetic north drifts and every few hundred thousand years the polarity flips so a compass would point south instead of north.

If the magnetic field continues to decline, over billions of years, Earth could end up like Mars – a once oceanic world that has become a dry, barren planet incapable of supporting life.

Read More and Watch Videos Here

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