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Solar flare heads for Earth - mastermg - 08-03-2010

Solar flare heads for Earth; NASA craft captures video of event set to light up aurorae

Early Sunday morning the sun woke from a relatively quiet period of activity and launched a solar flare carrying charged particles expected to strike the Earth tonight. The coronal mass ejection (CME) was one of possibly two that will light up the night sky in some places tonight and in the coming days.

What is being termed a “solar tsunami” – a wall of charged ion particles – is expected to trigger a geomagnetic storm visible in the northern latitudes. The aurorae, normally only visible at extreme northern latitudes, are expected to put on a show for areas as far south as the northern contiguous United States the nights of August 3rd and 4th.

"This eruption is directed right at us, and is expected to get here early in the day on August 4th," said astronomer Leon Golub of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "It's the first major Earth-directed eruption in quite some time."

The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) reported that instruments aboard NASA’s GOES-13 satellite have begun recording the effects of the storm as it nears Earth. In Boulder, Colorado, the NOAA / USGS magnetometer has seen heightened activity in the last few hours.

NASA said the event was classified a C3 class solar flare. This is a relatively minor event as compared to X and M class flares. Larger solar flares can disrupt communication systems and electronics. Scientists warn that larger events can knock satellites and power grids offline.

The sun experiences relatively predictable cycles of activity usually lasting 11 years. The last solar maximum occurred in 2001 and since then the star has been quiet. NASA said that eruptions such as this are usually signs that the sun is beginning to wake up and begin a period of higher activity expected to peak in 2013.

RE: Solar flare heads for Earth - yeti - 08-04-2010

(08-03-2010, 08:55 PM)mastermg Wrote: The last solar maximum occurred in 2001 and since then the star has been quiet.

This is not true. The sun was extremely active well past 2001. It was doing all kinds of crazy stuff that scientists could not explain, up to ~ 2006. It calmed down, then went into 2 years of extreme quiet, also unusual. For many many months there was not a single spot on the sun. Since May it has woken up, and rather quickly too...

How do I know? I have a SOHO link on my search page, so I normally see the sun many times daily. Currently SOHO is doing a CCD bakeout, which rejuvenates the imager.

Here is an animation from 2000 to 2008:

Notice how the sun suddenly speeds up and slows down? Nibiru!!

Unfortunately this montage misses out on the extremely quiet period, but you can see it falling off very noticeably into 2008...