Space Weather has just issued an alert regarding a new X-Flare coming from the Sun.
X-FLARE: Earth-orbiting satellites have just detected an X2-class solar flare. The source is huge sunspot AR1339. MAGNIFICENT SUNSPOT: One of the largest sunspots in years is rotating over the Sun's northeastern limb. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory took this picture of AR1339 during the early hours of November 3rd. Measuring some 40,000 km wide and at least twice that in length, the sprawling sunspot group is an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Two or three of the sunspot's dark cores are wider than Earth itself. Naturally, such a large sunspot has potential for strong flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of M-class solar flares during the next 24 hours. One such eruption has already occured: An M4-flare at 2200 UT on Nov. 2nd produced a bright flash of extreme UV radiation (SDO movie) and hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. The CME is not heading our way. Future CMEs could have greater effect as AR1339 turns toward Earth in the days ahead.In the latest updates, NOAA is forecasting a 75% chance for Class M solar flares in the next 48 hours and a 20% chance for Class X solar flares in the same time period. Plus, a 5% chance for severe geomagnetic storms to cause significant disturbances to the high latitudes of Earth's magnetic field during the next 48 hours as well.
NORTHERN LIGHTS: November began with a geomagnetic storm. A shock wave in the solar wind swept past Earth during the early hours of Nov 1st, sparking strong magnetic disturbances around the Arctic Circle. More auroras are possible on Nov. 4th. A coronal mass ejection (CME) left the sun on Oct. 31st when a solar filament erupted; the cloud could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field this Thursday.
Interestingly, Space Weather is indicating that there have been only 2 days or 1% of spotless days in 2011, in stark contrast to 2010, which saw 51 days or 14% and 2009, that had 260 days or 71%. A clear indication of the uptick in solar activity this year.
WATCH: A look at sunspot group AR11339 over the past 2 days. The observation is by the 171 Angstrom wavelength channel from SDO/AIA.
UPDATE: NOAA Forecasts 20% Chance That X-Flares Will Hit Earth!
New update from Space Weather and NOAA:
CHANCE OF FLARES: NOAA forecasters have upgraded the chance of X-class solar flares today to 20%. The source would be AR1339, one of the biggest sunspots in many years.WATCH: The Solar Watch Report.
The active region rotated over the sun's eastern limb two days ago and now it is turning toward Earth. The sunspot has already unleashed one X-flare on Nov. 3rd around 2027 UT. Click on the arrow on the leftto view the movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory that shows the extreme ultraviolet flash.
Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the CME will hit Mercury on Nov. 4th around 16:14 UT. NASA's MESSENGER probe in orbit around Mercury will be monitoring the effects of the impact. If the CME overwhelms Mercury's relatively weak magnetic field, it could scour material off the planet's surface creating a temporary atmosphere and adding material to Mercury's comet-like tail. The CME should hit Venus on Nov. 5th; the gossamer cloud will probably break harmlessly against the top of planet's ultra-dense atmosphere.
UPDATE: Huge Sunspot Turns Towards Earth, Possible Eruptions!
Here is the latest update from Space Weather:
POLAR BLAST: A magnetic filament curling around the sun's north pole erupted during the early hours of Nov. 5th. Material propelled by the blast is heading out of the plane of the solar system and will not impact any planet. [SDO movie]. BIG SUNSPOT: Sunspot AR1339 has quieted since Nov. 3rd when it unleashed an X2-class solar flare. Nevertheless, it still poses a threat for powerful eruptions. The behemoth sunspot has a "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for more X-flares. Eruptions this weekend could be Earth-directed as AR1339 turns toward our planet. AR1339 is one of the largest sunspots in years, and it looks spectacular though backyard solar telescopes. Each of the primary dark cores is about the size of Earth, and the entire group sprawls more than 100,000 km from end to end. The sunspot is so big, it's starting to attact the attention of people looking into the sunset. NORTHERN LIGHTS: Last night sky watchers in Scandinavia witnessed a vivid display of green auroras. It was so bright, even the rocks and water got involved: The display was caused by the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF), which tipped south and partially canceled Earth's own north-pointing field. This created a crack in Earth's magnetosphere; solar wind flowed in to fuel the auroras.
WATCH: Solar Activity Update.