‘Freakishly’ Flared

October 25, 2014

solar-flare-tessa-hunt-woodlandDespite the deep, dark storm clouds now cowering over the northern California coast, and all the crazy shit happening all over, especially yesterday, another sight from the skies — from Space.com this morning:

The solar flare occurred Friday afternoon, reaching its peak at 5:41 p.m. EDT (2141 GMT), and triggered a strong radio blackout at the time, according to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center.
NASA’s sun-watching Solar Dynamics Observatory captured stunning video of the huge solar flare.

The flare came off the biggest sunspot in more than 20 years — the base covers 80,000 miles across, the size of Jupiter — and the ‘fourth intense solar storm‘ episode since Oct. 19.

(Illustration: Tessa Hunt-Woodland‘s ‘Solar Flare,’ found here).

Last Wednesday, ‘the freakishly huge sunspot AR 2192,’ according to Astronomer Phil Plait at Slate, provided a massive explosion: ‘Today’s flare was an X 1.6, which is fairly powerful. And by “fairly,” I mean it exploded with the energy of something like a million times the combined yield of every single nuclear weapon on Earth.’
Plait understated it as ‘a big bang.’

And this afternoon — another big bang.
From Discovery:

This is the second powerful eruption in less than 24 hours to be triggered from the large sunspot that occupies the region.
Today’s flare registered at X1 on the solar flare Richter Scale, the most powerful class of flare, but weaker than Friday’s X3-class flare.
Further radio black-outs have been recorded on the daytime side of the Earth, but, once again, today’s flare did not generate a significant coronal mass ejection (CME).

The sun has a myriad of effects on Earth during intense solar activity. When a flare erupts in the lower solar corona, the radiation generated can cause extreme ionization in the upper atmosphere, interfering with the propagation of high-frequency radio waves, meddling with global communications.
Signals from global positioning satellites (GPS) can be interrupted, air traffic communications can get patchy and the interference can even be measured by amateur radio operators.
On Friday at 21:40 UT (4:40 p.m. EDT), AR2192 erupted with an X3-class flare as the huge sunspot was facing Earth.
Like looking down the barrel of a solar gun, the region crackled with X-ray and extreme-utraviolet (EUV) radiation that immediately washed over the Earth’s ionosphere.
A “radio blackout” was reported across the sun-facing side of our planet, including much of the US.

This AR2192 has puzzled the brainiacs at bit:

Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, are magnetic bubbles of highly-energetic particles that are hurled into space from the sun’s lower corona.
They may take hours or days to reach Earth orbit, but their impact on our planet’s magnetosphere can be dramatic.
However, it appears that yesterday’s flare did not launch a CME.
In fact, none of the dozens of flares (all of lesser energies than yesterday’s event) AR2192 has produced have generated a CME, which is interesting.

Needless to say, space weather forecasters will be studying this large sunspot — the largest sunspot seen on the sun for 24 years — until it rotates out of view to understand what is going on.

The value of understatement.

This mention from the NWS’ Space Weather Prediction Center this afternoon: Region 2192 produced another R3 radio blackout (X1 flare) today. It was a long duration event, beginning at 12:55 pm EDT, peaking at 1:08 pm and ending at 2:11 pm.

Weird how shit you have no clue about could have grave consequences. Way-up yonder in the dark, and earth  just a speck in the way-deep, wide universe.
And it’s raining, too.

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