Aurora Alert! Solar Flare Heading Our Way

Article Updated: 20 Jan , 2016
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This image shows a three and a half hour (0000 - 0330 UT) time lapse movie of the flare and filament event. Credit: NASA/SDO

An active sunspot (1123) erupted early this morning (Nov. 12th), producing a C4-class solar flare and apparently hurling a filament of material in the general direction of Earth. Coronagraph images from the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and NASA’s twin STEREO spacecraft show a faint coronal mass ejection emerging from the blast site and heading off in a direction just south of the sun-Earth line. The cloud could deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field sometime between Nov. 13th to the 15th. High latitude sky watchers could see auroras on those dates.

New sunspot 1123 in the Sun's southern hemisphere is crackling with C-class solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI.

Here’s a look at the two sunspots currently visible on the Sun.

Speaking of sunspots, there’s a great video from Oct. 25-27, 2010, showing two sunspots merging:

Find out more on SpaceWeather.com and the Solar Dynamics Observatory website.



16 Responses

  1. Aqua says:

    The shape of the evolving ejection is fascinating. Notice the spiral twist?

  2. Aqua says:

    Surf’s up! Catch THAT wave! and Whoa Nelly! Can you imagine a future ‘Maverick’s’ surf contest just outside Lagrange L1? Tell the Silver Surfer….. ~@; )

  3. ILOVETHESTAR says:

    Please SUN, don’t give us an 1859 blast!!!!!! Although the SUN can blast the Earth, it appears this will be a weak Solar Max scheduled in 2012-2013. I followed the Sun the last last 7-8 years,very few Sunspots.

  4. gherreram says:

    Satellites transmissions worlldwide may suffer interruptions and ther migh occur some black-outs ln som parts of the world

  5. Spoodle58 says:

    Thanks for the heads up Nancy. Lets hope for clear skies on those nights.

  6. J. Major says:

    Nice video of the event too….I like the *flash* as the Sun fires its photon torpedo! pewpew!

  7. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    From the info available, it is highly unlikely you’ll see anything.

    According to NOAA at 2010 November 13 13:03 UTC; “Solar Activity Forecast: Solar activity is expected to be at very low to low levels with a slight chance for M-class events for the next three days (13-15 November).”

    It is quite irresponsible here to call an aurora alert, as the likelihood of the auroral oval reaching the US is quite low.

  8. Spoodle58 says:

    We don’t all live in the US though, some of us live at higher latitudes. 😉

  9. elissagrace says:

    The lowres report of 2008 cited the 30+ detection/ monitoring sources from SOHO, STEREO and SEC to SWPC (NOAA)…. it seemed to me (layperson) among their observations, a combination of services would best to monitor the risk of a High Intensity/ Low-Frequency event because one service may “catch” what is not even detected by another…. in other words- my info is dated- maybe outdated even but just because NOAA says all’s well, does it really mean NASA’s SOHO and STEREO were irresponsible to issue the 1123 sunspot C4 alert?- just curious if I am wasting my time trying to rush the grocery store and gas station…..

  10. Lawrence B. Crowell says:

    It is interesting to see two sun spots merge. These are regions of large magnetic flux emerging from the photosphere. Field lines, whether electric or magnetic, tend to exist in arrangements where they are furthest apart — they push against each other. So this merger indicates that they hydrodynamics pressure in the interior is capable of doing work on sunspots so as to store that work or energy in a magnetohydrodynamic form. This means the MHD spring or coil has been wound up, with more energy stored. This is a source for flaring.

    LC

  11. Chris Foote says:

    I have been going “The Geophysical Institute Aurora Forecast Page” http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/auroraforecast/ to see if the northern lights will be out. In this case, they are in disagreement with this article. They do indicate a spike on the 19th and 20th though.

    Does anyone know of another good aurora forecast page? Does anyone know what might cause the disagreement between these predictions?

  12. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    Chris
    The best source is from the NOAA / Space Weather Prediction Centre. which also has the 3-day forecast.

    As for the issue by Elissagracw of who was “irresponsible”, i was directly blaming the title of this article that says “Aurora Alert” — and is bad as it cries wolf when the real chances of an aurora appearing over low magnetic latitudes is small. My gripe is the media should be and act responsible in predictions of possible astronomical events towards the general public.
    In this view, it only promotes often blatantly misinforming and fear mongering statements, like that by Gherreram Satellites transmissions worlldwide may suffer interruptions and there might occur some black-outs ln some parts of the world.
    Based on the current information available no such events are likely.

  13. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    Chris
    You might also like to have linked of a forecast page is http://www.spaceweather.com.
    This has the information on the current prospects of aurora, and images of the Daily Sun, the Current Auroral Oval, Coronal Holes and updated forecast via % chances by mid or high latitudes.

    (At this sight is an interesting image of a sundiving comet from the SOHO coronagraph. haven’t read anything about it in the general media. Pity)

  14. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    Sorry. In my last paragraph “sight” meant to be “site.”

    Pity there is no editor in Universe Today comments.

  15. Chris Foote says:

    Thanks guys, I’ll pull my electronics back out of my lead safe and hook the house back up to the grid.

  16. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    On the 17th/18th November the prediction that little would be observed proved to be true. Like most news stories, the notification is hailed with fanfare, but when the news proved to be wrong or false, the instigators / perpetrators of the sensationalism are gone with the dust! Worst the story falls off the front page, leaving people who read it far more sceptical and more cynical of science and the scientific methods.
    I’ve store this in my memory bank, and will drag it out again next time we have a sensational claim.

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