Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Major Solar Storm in Progress


Big sunspot AR1429 has unleashed another major flare--an X5-class eruption on March 7th at 00:28 UT.   As a result of the blast, a radiation storm is underway and a CME will likely hit Earth's magnetic field in a day or so. Geomagnetic storms are already in progress at high latitudes due to earlier eruptions from the active sunspot.  Last night, auroras were spotted over several northern-tier US states including Michigan and Wisconsin.  Check http://spaceweather.com for updates and images.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme UV flash:


This eruption hurled a bright CME into space, shown here in a movie from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. Although the CME is not squarely Earth-directed, it appears direct enough to deliver a glancing blow to our planet's magnetic field on March 8-9. This would add to the magnetic unrest already underway at high latitudes.

The flare also accelerated energetic protons toward Earth, triggering an S3-class solar radiation storm, in progress. Such a storm is mainly a nuisance to satellites, causing occasional reboots of onboard computers and adding noise to imaging systems.


Shortly after the CME impact, a burst of Northern Lights appeared over the US-Canadian border. Shawn Malone photographed the display from the shores of Lake Superior:


"I was lucky to catch this brilliant outburst of aurora activity that was very active for close to an hour," says Malone, who has also made a time-lapse video of the display. "The aurora had no problem shining through the moonlit skies."

more images: from Eric Frigon of Banff National Park , Alberta, Canada; from John Welling of Ashland,Wisconsin; from Justin Phillips of New Auburn, Wisconsin -- SpaceWeather



Space Weather Message Code: WATA50
Serial Number: 43
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 1742 UTC

WATCH: Geomagnetic A-index of 50 or greater predicted
NOAA Scale: Periods reaching the G3 (Strong) Level Likely
Valid for UTC Day: 2012 Mar 08

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 50 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Power system voltage irregularities possible, false alarms may be triggered on some protection devices.
Spacecraft - Systems may experience surface charging; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites and orientation problems may occur.
Navigation - Intermittent satellite navigation (GPS) problems, including loss-of-lock and increased range error may occur.
Radio - HF (high frequency) radio may be intermittent.
Aurora - Aurora may be seen as low as Pennsylvania to Iowa to Oregon.

Space Weather Message Code: WARK06
Serial Number: 186
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 1451 UTC

WARNING: Geomagnetic K-Index of 6 expected
Valid From: 2012 Mar 07 1451 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Mar 07 2100 UTC
Warning Condition: Persistence
NOAA Scale: G2 - Moderate

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 55 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Power grid fluctuations can occur. High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms.
Spacecraft - Satellite orientation irregularities may occur; increased drag on low Earth-orbit satellites is possible.
Radio - HF (high frequency) radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes.
Aurora - Aurora may be seen as low as New York to Wisconsin to Washington state.

Space Weather Message Code: ALTPX3
Serial Number: 25
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 1417 UTC

ALERT: Proton Event 10MeV Integral Flux exceeded 1000pfu
Begin Time: 2012 Mar 07 1410 UTC
NOAA Scale: S3 - Strong

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: Radiation - Passengers and crew in high latitude, high altitude flights may experience increasing radiation exposures. Astronauts on EVA (extra-vehicular activity) are exposed to elevated radiation levels.
Spacecraft - Single-event upsets to satellite operations, noise in imaging systems, and slight reduction of efficiency in solar panels are likely.
Radio - Degraded or episodically blacked-out polar HF (high frequency) radio propagation.

Space Weather Message Code: WARPX1
Serial Number: 344
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 1159 UTC

EXTENDED WARNING: Proton 10MeV Integral Flux above 10pfu expected
Extension to Serial Number: 343
Valid From: 2012 Mar 07 0030 UTC
Now Valid Until: 2012 Mar 08 1200 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset
Predicted NOAA Scale: S2 - Moderate

Comment: This warning UPGRADED from S1(Minor) to S2(Moderate) due to increasing flux levels.

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: Radio - Minor impacts on polar HF (high frequency) radio propagation resulting in fades at lower frequencies.

Space Weather Message Code: ALTPX2
Serial Number: 49
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 1022 UTC

ALERT: Proton Event 10MeV Integral Flux exceeded 100pfu
Begin Time: 2012 Mar 07 1015 UTC
NOAA Scale: S2 - Moderate

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: Radiation - Passengers and crew in high latitude, high altitude flights may experience small, increased radiation exposures.
Spacecraft - Infrequent single-event upsets to satellites are possible.
Radio - Small effects on polar HF (high frequency) propagation resulting in fades at lower frequencies.

Space Weather Message Code: ALTK04
Serial Number: 1565
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 0517 UTC

ALERT: Geomagnetic K-index of 4
Threshold Reached: 2012 Mar 07 0513 UTC
Synoptic Period: 0300-0600 UTC
 
Active Warning: Yes

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: Area of impact primarily poleward of 65 degrees Geomagnetic Latitude.
Induced Currents - Weak power grid fluctuations can occur.
Aurora - Aurora may be visible at high latitudes such as Canada and Alaska.

Space Weather Message Code: WARPC0
Serial Number: 54
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 0256 UTC

WARNING: Proton 100MeV Integral Flux above 1pfu expected
Valid From: 2012 Mar 07 0300 UTC
Valid To: 2012 Mar 07 2359 UTC
Warning Condition: Onset

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: An enhancement in the energetic portion of the solar radiation spectrum may indicate increased biological risk to astronauts or passengers and crew in high latitude, high altitude flights. Additionally, energetic particles may represent an increased risk to all satellite systems susceptible to single event effects. This information should be used in conjunction with the current Solar Radiation Storm conditions when assessing overall impact.

Space Weather Message Code: ALTXMF
Serial Number: 166
Issue Time: 2012 Mar 07 0009 UTC

ALERT: X-Ray Flux exceeded M5
Threshold Reached: 2012 Mar 07 0008 UTC
NOAA Scale: R2 - Moderate

NOAA Space Weather Scale descriptions can be found at
www.swpc.noaa.gov/NOAAscales

Potential Impacts: Area of impact centered on sub-solar point on the sunlit side of Earth. Extent of blackout of HF (high frequency) radio communication dependent upon current X-ray Flux intensity. For real-time information on affected area and expected duration please see http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/drap/index.html.

The massive sunspot region AR1429 has been particularly active since it emerged on March 2, 2012.
CREDIT: NASA/SDO

Big sunspot 1429 poses a continued threat for X-class solar flares.

To subscribe to NOAA space weather email alerts visit NOAA SWPC Product Subscription Service.



NASA | Massive Solar Flare gets HD Close Up

This movie of the March 6, 2012 X5.4 flare was captured by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) in the 171 and 131 Angstrom wavelength. One of the most dramatic features is the way the entire surface of the sun seems to ripple with the force of the eruption. This movement comes from something called EIT waves -- because they were first discovered with the Extreme ultraviolet Imaging Telescope (EIT) on the Solar Heliospheric Observatory. Since SDO captures images every 12 seconds, it has been able to map the full evolution of these waves and confirm that they can travel across the full breadth of the sun. The waves move at over a million miles per hour, zipping from one side of the sun to the other in about an hour. The movie shows two distinct waves. The first seems to spread in all directions; the second is narrower, moving toward the southeast. Such waves are associated with, and perhaps trigger, fast coronal mass ejections, so it is likely that each one is connected to one of the two CMEs that erupted on March 6.

3 comments:

covertress said...

The Solar Influences Center in Belgium reports:

"An interplanetary shock wave was detected by ACE at 10:45 UT today. The interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) magnitude increased from around 12 to 25 nT, and then further up to 40 nT. Although ACE plasma data is still corrupted due to the ongoing major SEP event and no SOHO/CELIAS data is currently available to confirm that it is indeed a shock that is detected, there is little doubt that this is the start of the interplanetary disturbance produced by the full halo CME observed on the Sun on March 7. The north-south IMF component is currently directed northward, but a turn to the south is not excluded. A major (K = 7 or even higher) geomagnetic storm is expected."

h/t: George Ure, Urban Survival

covertress said...

FDNY at scene of transformer fire

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Fire officials say they are at the scene of a transformer fire on Manhattan's West Side.

A FDNY spokesman said there are no injuries or evacuations.

He said the call came in at 12:06 p.m. He says the fire is in a Con Edison vault on Ninth Avenue between 34th and 33rd streets.

Six fire trucks are on the scene.

Con Edison says it has a crew on the way.

covertress said...

SOHO/LASCO detected a full halo CME in association with the M6.3 flare in Catania sunspot group 65 (NOAA AR 1429) this morning. The CME first appeared in the LASCO C2 field of view at 04:14 UT and had a speed around 750 km/s. We expect the CME arrival at the Earth late on March 11 - early on March 12. An evaluation of the possible erupting flux rope orientation on the basis of HMI photospheric magnetograms and AIA images of the post-eruption arcade gives the south-east-north (SEN, left-handed) configuration. Due to the position of the CME source region close to the solar central meridian, we expect a nearly central encounter of the resulting ICME, which will probably be a magnetic cloud with leading southward field. A strong geomagnetic storm (K = 7 or higher) is probable.