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Menopausal Mother Nature

News about Climate Change and our Planet

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Sun activity: Another CME coming, 2 more flares, a radio blackout

Yellow globe (the sun) with dark patches (sunspots) and a rectangle showing a zoomed-in picture of AR2965 (sunspots) with an Earth for scale.
A Solar Dynamic Observatory (SDO) image of the visible sun. It shows sunspots visible from Earth, as of March 15, 2022. A zoomed-in rectangle shows the large sunspot region, AR2965, on March 14. This region produced most of last week’s sun activity. This sunspot region is many times larger than Earth. There is an inset Earth to show this scale. This region has the potential to produced many more C-class flares with a chance for more M-class flares and maybe even an X-flare, before the sun’s rotation carries it out of view. Image via NASA/SDO and Helioviewer.

Another CME is coming

As reported by SpaceWeather.com:

On March 13 [2022], an unstable filament of magnetism in the sun’s far-southern hemisphere exploded. The resulting CME could deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on March 17. Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible if/when the CME arrives.

Two moderate flares and a radio blackout on March 15

The sunspot region that has been giving us a taste of the coming solar maximum is labeled AR2965. It also released a CME (coronal mass ejection) last week, which reached Earth on March 13 and set off a flurry of amazing auroras.

And AR2965 has not stayed quiet. It produced two more moderate flares (M1.4 and M1.6) on March 15 with shortwave radio blackouts over the Atlantic Ocean and Pacific Oceans, respectively.

2 cool videos of AR2965, from SDO

The Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is in a circular geosynchronous orbit around Earth. It gives us multiple ways to view AR2965 as it rotates into view from the left side of the sun (as viewed from Earth), and as other regions rotate out of view on the right of the sun. The first video shows the change in the sun’s magnetic field from March 8 to March 14. The clumps of black and white are the concentrations of magnetic fields from the sunspots. The black color means the field is going into the sun and white means coming out. This is a 2-D view and a 3-D structure. The first region in view is AR2962. It rotates out of view and we can see AR2965 come into view. This is the region that gave us an Earth-directed CME (and glorious auroras) last week, along with 2 moderate, M-class flares.

The next video shows the same region but now in 193 angstrom light. This shows us the sun’s super-hot atmosphere in temperatures upwards of 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius). The loop-like structures are the magnetic fields (normally invisible in light) lit up by the hot atmosphere.

Some cool gifs from SOHO

The SOHO (the Solar Heliospheric Observatory), with its LASCO instruments – orbiting at the L-1 point in the Earth-sun system – also gives us unique views of the sun. It uses a disk (called an occulter) to block out the super bright sun. And so faint CMEs are visible as puffs of smoke moving away from the sun.

The white circles in the two gifs below – from March 14-15 – show where the sun is behind the occulter. The red images are from the inner coronagraph, C2. And the blue ones are from the outer coronagraph, C3.

Red disk (space around sun) and black and white disk (changing space).
The left image is the SOHO/LASCO C2 coronagraph showing CMEs coming off the sun on March 14, and half of March 15, 2022. They appear as smoke-like puffs. The right image is a different image during the same period. As the sequence of images progress, the previous image is subtracted from the current image so you can better see the change. Image via SOHO/LASCO/ NASA.
Red disk (space around sun) and black and white disk (changing space).
The left image is the SOHO/LASCO C3 coronagraph showing CMEs coming off the sun March 14 and half of March 15. They appear as smokelike puffs. The right image is a different image during the same period. As the sequence of images progress, the previous image is subtracted from the current image so the change is more visible. Image via SOHO/LASCO/ NASA.

Auroras all over!

Following last weekend’s direct hit of Earth by a CME, the auroral show has gone on and on. In several places at north latitudes as we write this, auroras are still happening. The northern lights appeared from the Yukon and Alaska to Iceland, Norway, Kiruna in Sweden, and more! Auroras were seen as far south as 52 degrees north latitude. There are so many beautiful photos and videos that it is hard to select just one. Here are a few more.

Bottom line: A look at sun activity for the week of March 14, 2022. Another CME coming. There have also been two more solar flares, and a radio blackout. Stay tuned!

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