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Topic: CME

NASA keeps an eye on Largest Sunspot in 24 years

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An active region on the sun – an area of intense and complex magnetic fields – rotated into view on October 18th, 2014. Labeled AR 12192, it soon grew into the largest such region in 24 years, and fired off 10 sizable solar flares as it traversed across the face of the sun.

The region was so large it could be seen without a telescope for those looking at the sun with eclipse glasses, as many did during a partial eclipse of the sun on October 23rd.

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NASA looks back at the July 2012 Solar Superstorm that just missed Earth

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – If an asteroid big enough to knock modern civilization back to the 18th century appeared out of deep space and buzzed the Earth-Moon system, the near-miss would be instant worldwide headline news.

Two years ago, Earth experienced a close shave just as perilous, but most newspapers didn’t mention it. The “impactor” was an extreme solar storm, the most powerful in as much as 150+ years.

“If it had hit, we would still be picking up the pieces,” says Daniel Baker of the University of Colorado.

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NASA reports on Intense Solar Storm that barely missed Earth

 

Written by Dr. Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – Last month (April 8th-11th), scientists, government officials, emergency planners and others converged on Boulder, Colorado, for NOAA’s Space Weather Workshop—an annual gathering to discuss the perils and probabilities of solar storms.

The current solar cycle is weaker than usual, so you might expect a correspondingly low-key meeting. On the contrary, the halls and meeting rooms were abuzz with excitement about an intense solar storm that narrowly missed Earth.

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NASA tracks Sunspot’s third lap across the Sun

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – A giant sunspot – a magnetically strong and complex region on the sun’s surface – has just appeared over the sun’s horizon. This is the third trip for this region across the face of the sun, which takes approximately 27 days to make a complete rotation.

Scientists track sunspots that are part of active regions, which often produce large explosions on the sun such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs.

A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. (NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center)

A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. (NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA details Comet ISON’s encounter with a Solar Storm

 

Written by Tony Phillips
Science at NASA

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – In 2007, astronomers were amazed when a solar storm hit Comet Encke. NASA STEREO spacecraft watched as a CME (coronal mass ejection) struck the comet head on and ripped off its tail.

The same thing could be in store for Comet ISON–only worse.

On November 28th, Comet ISON will pass through the sun’s atmosphere, flying little more than a million kilometers above the sun’s surface. It will be ~30 times closer to the sun than Encke was in 2007 and more likely to encounter a ferocious solar storm.

A CME strikes Comet Encke in April 2007

A CME strikes Comet Encke in April 2007 (Click to view movie)

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NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory sees Coronal Mass Ejection from the Sun directed towards Earth

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On August 20th, 2013 at 4:24am EDT, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a solar phenomenon which can send billions of tons of particles into space that can reach Earth one to three days later.

These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.

The SOHO LASCO C2 instrument captured this image of the Earth-directed CME. SOHO's coronographs are able to take images of the solar corona by blocking the light coming directly from the Sun with an occulter disk. The location of the actual sun is shown with an image taken by SDO. (Image Credit: ESA & NASA/SOHO, SDO)

The SOHO LASCO C2 instrument captured this image of the Earth-directed CME. SOHO’s coronographs are able to take images of the solar corona by blocking the light coming directly from the Sun with an occulter disk. The location of the actual sun is shown with an image taken by SDO. (Image Credit: ESA & NASA/SOHO, SDO)

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NASA reports on the effects of Strong Solar Flares

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Given a legitimate need to protect Earth from the most intense forms of space weather — great bursts of electromagnetic energy and particles that can sometimes stream from the sun — some people worry that a gigantic “killer solar flare” could hurl enough energy to destroy Earth, but this is not actually possible.

Solar activity is indeed currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum, something that occurs approximately every 11 years. However, this same solar cycle has occurred over millennia so anyone over the age of 11 has already lived through such a solar maximum with no harm.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft captured this image of a solar flare as it erupted from the sun early on Nov 4, 2003. This was the most powerful flare measured with modern methods, classified as an X28. (Credit: ESA and NASA/SOHO)

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft captured this image of a solar flare as it erupted from the sun early on Nov 4, 2003. This was the most powerful flare measured with modern methods, classified as an X28.
(Credit: ESA and NASA/SOHO)

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NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory gives insight into how Coronal Mass Ejections form

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – On July 18th, 2012, a fairly small explosion of light burst off the lower right limb of the sun. Such flares often come with an associated eruption of solar material, known as a coronal mass ejection or CME – but this one did not.

Something interesting did happen, however. Magnetic field lines in this area of the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, began to twist and kink, generating the hottest solar material – a charged gas called plasma – to trace out the newly-formed slinky shape.

On July 19th, 2012, SDO captured images of a solar flare in numerous wavelengths. The 131 Angstrom wavelength, shown here in the middle and colorized in teal, portrays particularly hot material on the sun, at 10 million Kelvin, which is why the incredibly hot flare shows up best in that wavelength. The 131 wavelength was also able to show kinked magnetic fields known as a flux rope that lay at the heart of a coronal mass ejection (CME), which also erupted at the same time as the flare. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

On July 19th, 2012, SDO captured images of a solar flare in numerous wavelengths. The 131 Angstrom wavelength, shown here in the middle and colorized in teal, portrays particularly hot material on the sun, at 10 million Kelvin, which is why the incredibly hot flare shows up best in that wavelength. The 131 wavelength was also able to show kinked magnetic fields known as a flux rope that lay at the heart of a coronal mass ejection (CME), which also erupted at the same time as the flare. (Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA uses data from multiple Observatories to study Coronal Cavities in the Sun’s Atmosphere

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – The sun’s atmosphere dances. Giant columns of solar material – made of gas so hot that many of the electrons have been scorched off the atoms, turning it into a form of magnetized matter we call plasma – leap off the sun’s surface, jumping and twisting. Sometimes these prominences of solar material, shoot off, escaping completely into space, other times they fall back down under their own weight.

The prominences are sometimes also the inner structure of a larger formation, appearing from the side almost as the filament inside a large light bulb. The bright structure around and above that light bulb is called a streamer, and the inside “empty” area is called a coronal prominence cavity.

Scientists want to understand what causes giant explosions in the sun's atmosphere, the corona, such as this one. The eruptions are called coronal mass ejections or CMEs and they can travel toward Earth to disrupt human technologies in space. To better understand the forces at work, a team of researchers used NASA data to study a precursor of CMEs called coronal cavities. (Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO))

Scientists want to understand what causes giant explosions in the sun’s atmosphere, the corona, such as this one. The eruptions are called coronal mass ejections or CMEs and they can travel toward Earth to disrupt human technologies in space. To better understand the forces at work, a team of researchers used NASA data to study a precursor of CMEs called coronal cavities. (Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO))

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NASA explains Storms from the Sun and their effects on Earth

 

Written by Karen C. Fox
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – Space weather starts at the sun. It begins with an eruption such as a huge burst of light and radiation called a solar flare or a gigantic cloud of solar material called a coronal mass ejection (CME). But the effects of those eruptions happen at Earth, or at least near-Earth space.

Scientists monitor several kinds of space “weather” events — geomagnetic storms, solar radiation storms, and radio blackouts – all caused by these immense explosions on the sun.

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. (Credit: NASA)

Artist illustration of events on the sun changing the conditions in Near-Earth space. (Credit: NASA)

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