March 15th began with a bang….. | Spaceweather.com
SLIGHT CHANCE OF SUNDAY STORMS: The X-flare of March 11th might not be done affecting our planet. According to computer models, a CME propelled into space by the explosion will sideswipe Earth’s magnetic field on Sunday, March 15th. NOAA forecasters estimate a 30% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms if and when the CME arrives. Aurora alerts: text, voice
SOLAR FLARE AND CME: March 15th began with a bang. Between 00:45 UT and 02:00 UT, a magnetic filament erupted in concert with a slow C9-class solar flare from sunspot AR2297. This movie of the eruption comes from an extreme UV telescope onboard NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:
The combo blast hurled a CME into space: SOHO movie. Modeling by NOAA analysts suggests that the cloud will deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field during the late hours of March 17th. Will there be green skies on St. Patrick’s Day? NOAA forecasters estimate a 50% chance of geomagnetic storms when the CME arrives.Solar flare alerts: text, voice
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AURORA OUTBURST: Last night, March 14-15, sky watchers around the Arctic Circle witnessed a magnificent outburst of auroras. “It was utterly amazing,” reports Oliver Wright of Abisko, Sweden. “Best I’ve seen in years of night photography.” He took this picture just as the storm was getting started:
“Later, the auroras exploded and just filled the sky!” he said.
Chad Blakley, an aurora tour guide in Abisko National Park, says “I have seen some very impressive displays during all of the years that I have been living in Abisko, but this particular show was truly one of a kind.” Using a high speed camera, he captured a must-see movie which Blakley says “closely represents what we saw with our own eyes.”
Aurora outbursts are often caused by CMEs. In this case however, a CME was not responsible. Instead, the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) around Earth tipped south. This opened a crack in Earth’s magnetic field. Solar wind poured in to fuel the display. Aurora alerts: text, voice
Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery
SOLAR RADIO BURST: For much of the past week, space weather news has focused on how sunspot AR2297 is causing radio blackouts on Earth. On March 12th the sunspot did the opposite. It unleashed a shortwave radio burst. “It was super intense–one of the strongest bursts of the current solar cycle,” reports amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft. Click on the image below to play a recording of the sounds he heard issuing from the loudspeaker of his radio telescope in rural New Mexico:
“The recording starts a little rough for a few seconds in that there was a ham transmission in progress on one channel (22 MHz) and the other channel (23 MHz) had a tiny bit of buzz,” says Ashcraft. “But then the solar burst hit and the ham voices were entirely drowned out. For the next 3 minutes, the airwaves were dominated by solar static.”
These radio sounds are caused by beams of electrons–in this case, accelerated by an M4-flare. As the electrons slice through the sun’s atmosphere, they generate a ripple of plasma waves and radio emissions detectable on Earth 93 million miles away. Astronomers classify solar radio bursts into five types; Ashcraft’s recording captured a mixture of Type III and Type V.
More bursts are in the offing. AR2297 has an unstable ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field that harbors energy for ‘radio-active’ explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of M-class flares and a 20% chance of X-flares on March 15th. Solar flare alerts: text, voice