“Complex eruption” observed on the sun

A huge solar flare was observed on the surface of the sun over the weekend. In some cases this sunspot activity was observed by the naked eye! Astronomers are forecasting this supercharged gas to reach Earth tomorrow when it will buffet the natural magnetic shield creating spectacular aurora borealis (northern or southern lights) displays in high latitudes. It is unknown whether this solar flare will be powerful enough to cause satellite, internet, and power outages. However, some experts have speculated that strong solar flares could be enough to trigger such events which would cause widespread and long-lasting effects.

According to Dr. Lucie Green, of the Mullard Space Science Laboratory in Surrey, UK: “This was a very rare event – not one, but two almost simultaneous eruptions from different locations on the sun were launched toward the Earth. This means we have a very good chance of seeing major and prolonged effects, such as the northern lights at low latitudes.” -ES

Article courtesy of SpaceWeather.com

COMPLEX ERUPTION ON THE SUN: On August 1st around 0855 UT, Earth orbiting satellites detected a C3-class solar flare. The origin of the blast was sunspot 1092. At about the same time, an enormous magnetic filament stretching across the sun’s northern hemisphere erupted. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the action:


Click to launch a movie (EUV 304 Å)

The timing of these events suggest they are connected, and a review of SDO movies strengthens that conclusion. Despite the ~400,000 km distance between them, the sunspot and filament seem to erupt together; they are probably connected by long-range magnetic fields. In this movie (171 Å), a shadowy shock wave (a “solar tsunami”) can be seen emerging from the flare site and rippling across the northern hemisphere into the filament’s eruption zone. That may have helped propel the filament into space.

In short, we have just witnessed a complex global eruption involving almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun.

A coronal mass ejection (CME) produced by the event is heading directly for Earth: SOHO movie. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras when it arrives on or about August 3rd.

more images: from Francois Rouviere of Mougins, France; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from Didier Favre of Brétigny-sur-Orge, France; from Cai-Uso Wohler of Bispingen, Germany; from Wouter Verhesen of Sittard, The Netherlands; from Michael Buxton of Ocean Beach, California

SUNSPOT SUNRISE: Sunspot 1092, a key player in yesterday’s Earth-directed eruptions, is big enough to see without the aid of a solar telescope. Oleg Toumilovitch “spotted” it on July 31st rising over Blairgowrie, South Africa:


Photo details: Canon EOS-350D, ISO-800, 1/1600s exposure

“During the first few minutes of sunrise only a fraction of the sunlight makes it’s way to the observer – mostly from the red part of visible spectrum,” notes Toumilovitch. “During this time large sunspots can be seen without a special solar filter.” Be careful, though! Even when dimmed by clouds and haze, direct sunlight can hurt your eyes. “If you try to take a picture like this,” advises Toumilovitch, “look only at the screen of your digital camera, not the optical viewfinder.”

more sunspot shots: from Roman Vanur of Nitra, Slovakia, EU; from Alan Friedman of Buffalo, NY; from Pavol Rapavy of Observatory Rimavska Sobota, Slovakia; from Rogerio Marcon of Campinas SP Brasil; from Michael Boschat of Halifax, Nova Scotia; from THEO BAKALEXIS of Peristeri, Attikh, Greece.

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This post was written by qni_it on August 2, 2010

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