Monday, July 30, 2012

Incoming CME from July 28th Flare

The above X-ray image of the sun is a fairly recent one, taken on July 25th at 13:40 UTC (9:40 AM EDT July 24th) by the GOES-15 satellite. The bright region in the lower left is Active Region 1532 (AR 1532). The bright spot just to the right is AR 1530. Image Credit: NOAA

The folks at NASA's Goddard Space Weather Lab report that the M6-class solar flare from July 28th did, in fact, produce a coronal mass ejection (CME) after all. The flare had erupted from Active Region 1532 (AR 1532) around 21:02 UTC (5:02 PM EDT).

Forecasters say that because AR 1532 was not turned toward Earth (and still is not as of yet), the CME blow that Earth's magnetic field receives will be a glancing one. They currently estimate it should pass Earth on July 31st around 15:00 UTC (11:00 AM EDT), give or take 7 hours either way of that estimate.

This incoming CME will also pass Mercury and have a greater affect there than at Earth. This is for two reasons. First, Mercury is closer to the sun and the CME cloud will not have dispersed as widely as it will when it passes Earth. Second, Mercury's magnetic field is only about 10 percent that of Earth's, and so Mercury is not as well protected.

The estimate of the CME arrival will likely change as the time draws closer. Stay tuned...

To monitor solar flare activity minute by minute, visit the "Today's Space Weather" page of NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center, URL: www.swpc.noaa.gov .

To learn more about the sun and to stay current on solar activity, visit the mission home pages of the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov and the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), sohowww.nascom.nasa.gov .

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