Monday, May 13, 2013

X FLARES 13-May-2013: Solar Activity Surges

A sunspot on the sun's eastern limb is crackling with powerful X-class solar flares.

It announced itself with an X1.7-class eruption on May 13th at 0217 UT, quickly followed by an X2.8-class flare at 1609 UT.

These are the strongest flares of 2013, and they signal a significant uptick in solar activity.

More eruptions are in the offing.

Both of today's flares have produced strong flashes of extreme ultraviolet radiation.

The explosions also hurled coronal mass ejections (CMEs) into space.

Coronagraphs onboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory are tracking the clouds.


The planet in the CME movie is Mercury.

Although the CMEs appear to hit Mercury, they do not.

In fact, no planets were in the line of fire.

However, the CMEs appear to be on course to hit NASA's Epoxi and Spitzer spacecraft on May 15-16.

When the flaring began, the sunspot was hidden behind the sun's eastern limb, but now solar rotation is bringing the active region into view.

The next 24 to 48 hours should reveal much about the sunspot, including its size, magnetic complexity, and potential for future flares.

For the moment, there is no reason to expect the explosions to stop.