SpaceSun

Sun activity: Week of August 29, 2022

The sun, seen as a yellow sphere with dark spots.
Today’s sun activity with the most active regions labeled (0 UTC on September 5, 2022). Original image, without labels, via NASA SDO. Today’s sun is posted by Armando Caussade. Why are east and west on the sun reversed?

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Sun activity September 4: Geomagnetic storms and auroras

Today’s top news: Auroras abound as Earth experiences geomagnetic storms from high-speed solar wind streaming from a coronal hole. Combined with the Russell-McPherron effect – which occurs around equinoxes – geomagnetic storm levels have been fluctuating between minor (G1) and moderate (G2). Auroras have been reported all across the Northern Hemisphere from the northern U.S., Canada, and northern Europe. The weak impact from a CME is still possible but unlikely. If the CME did reach us, geomagnetic storm levels could go even higher. Currently, the forecast is for a decrease to a G1 storm by September 5 then back to just active levels as the high-speed solar wind dies down. Sun activity from flaring has shown a very slight increase but with still only C flares, mostly from AR3089. Hopefully, more beautiful auroras will be shared over the coming day or so. Submit your image to EarthSky Community Photos.
Last 24 hours: The sun produced many low-level flares over the past day! We saw 21 C-class flares. The largest was a C6.4 flare from AR3089 that peaked at 3:02 UTC on September 4, 2022. The main player of the day was AR3089, but its magnetic configuration has simplified and it is no longer complex enough to produce X flares. Two additional flare producers are AR3093 and AR3094.
Next 24 hours: The forecast is for a 80% chance for C flares, 30% chance for M flares and 10% chance for X flares.
Next expected CME: No Earth-directed CMEs were detected.
Current geomagnetic activity: A minor to moderate (G1 to G2) geomagnetic storm is underway. Earth has been buffeted by high-speed solar wind from a coronal hole. This disturbed Earth’s magnetic field starting on late September 2. Geomagnetic levels became active to a minor (G1) storm on September 3. By early September 4 levels fluctuated between minor (G1) to moderate geomagnetic storming. Isolated minor storming is expected into September 5 with a decrease to active levels by September 6 as the effects of the coronal hole wane.

Large electric power line pole with stars in the sky and purple green curtains across the image.
Sun activity September 4, 2022: A photo of the aurora taken early this morning over Winnipeg, Canada, by Kim Hines (@KimHinesSN on Twitter). She wrote: “Joining the aurora party at 1 a.m. … I’m surrounded! Saw it in Winnipeg! I went from one starry night (#vangogh) to another!” Image via Kim Hines.

The sun, seen as a yellow sphere with dark spots.
Today’s sun activity with the most active regions labeled (0 UTC on September 5, 2022). Original image, without labels, via NASA SDO. Today’s sun is posted by Armando Caussade. Why are east and west on the sun reversed?

Sun activity September 3: Fiery filament erupts, produces CME

Sun activity granted us a fiery filament eruption on the sun’s southeast quadrant, south of the large trans-equatorial coronal hole, next to sunspot region AR3093. The dynamic eruption started approximately at 19:24 UTC on September 2, 2022, and peaked at around 00:34 UTC this morning (September 3). The eruption produced a coronal mass ejection, or CME, ejected from the southeast limb (edge) of the sun. Due to its position, part of this CME could be Earth-directed, and an analysis by scientists is underway to determine whether it is. Meanwhile, on Earth, we had a geomagnetic disturbance at G1 (minor) in NOAA’s scale. Threshold was reached at 02:22 UTC on September 3, 2022. Auroras might be displayed as far south as the northern U.S., in places such as northern Michingan and Maine. Aurora-chasers, go for it! Our wishes for clear skies. By the way, on today’s date – September 3 in the year 1859 – effects from the Carrington Event reached the Earth and provoked auroral displays as far south as the Caribbean and Hawaii. The skies turned red with auroras on that night, in some places. And September 3, 1859, was a Saturday, like today.

September 2, 2022 Sun activity shows a filament eruption.
September 2, 2022, sun activity produced a filament eruption on the sun’s southeast quadrant. The eruption produced a CME. The animation shows the blast. Image via Helioviewer.
September 2, 2022 LASCO 2 shows a CME on the Southeast limb (edge).
September 2, 2022, sun activity shows a CME blasted out on the southeast limb (edge). Image via LASCO 2/ NOAA.

Sun activity September 2: Coronal hole now spans sun’s equator

There are two potential sources for sun activity now. One is a large coronal hole, and the other is active sunspot region AR3089. The coronal hole is now trans-equatorial since it crosses the sun’s equator and touches both solar hemispheres, north and south. It’s now located close to the center of the solar disk, as seen from Earth, and any high-speed solar wind it may produce could reach the Earth in about three days. Meanwhile, active sunspot region AR3089 is now the sun’s largest in size and magnetic complexity. Due to its position on the sun, any blast from this sunspot region might be Earth-oriented. Both the coronal hole and AR3089 promise geomagnetic action on Earth, and subsequent auroras. Will it happen? We’ll see. Time will tell. Stay tuned!

September 2, 2022 Sun activity showing a large coronal hole and large sunspot region.
On September 2, 2022, two potential sources appear for sun activity: A large trans-equatorial coronal hole and sunspot region AR3089. AIA 195 angstrom. Image via NOAA.

Sun activity September 1: Parker Solar Probe’s 13th perihelion

It’s been billed as the first spacecraft to “touch” the sun. And now Parker Solar Probe is touching the sun again with its 13th (of 24) perihelion – closest point to the sun – beginning today. The close encounter lasts from September 1 to 11. And Parker Solar Probe will reach its closest point to the sun on September 6. At this perihelion, Parker Solar Probe will be just 5.3 million miles (8.5 million kilometers) from the sun, skimming the sun’s outer atmosphere or corona. Today (September 1), the spacecraft is 22.8 million miles (36.7 million km) from the sun. ESA’s Solar Orbiter mission is coordinating its measurements with Parker Solar Probe during the perihelion. Solar Orbiter will be at the same angle to the sun as Parker Solar Probe but 58.5 million miles (94 million kilometers) farther away. Scientists on both missions are happy with the surge in solar activity in recent days, just as Parker Solar Probe has been swooping in close. The more activity, the more opportunity to make exciting new discoveries. As of today, though, sun activity is back to low.

Brighter circle near the center with larger circles around it and a long green eclipse traced out
Sun activity for September 1, 2022: The sun with the orbits of Mercury, Venus, and Earth shown. A green ellipse traces out the orbit of Parker Solar Probe during its 13th perihelion, or closest point to the sun. Image via NASA/ JHUAPL/ Parker Solar Probe.

Sun activity August 31: AR3088 still flaring big!

Despite the fact that it’s now out of sight, behind the limb (edge) of the sun, AR3088 keeps blasting flares at least up to M class. The region produced numerous eruptive CMEs from around the sun’s southwest limb. On August 30, 2022, a pair of M1 flares occurred at 1:40 UTC and 2:13 UTC. A long-duration M2.1 flare began at 18:04 UTC and peaked at 19:29 UTC. Because the flare occurred from around the sun’s limb, much of the activity was blocked (occulted) from our view by the sun itself. If we’d seen it clearly, we might have realized it was an X-class event. Meanwhile, the northeast of the sun replied with an enormous prominence, and, in the southeast, prominences that had been dancing high in the solar corona, stable for over a week, finally erupted into space. A type II radio sweep (indicative of a CME) was observed at 17:41 UTC on August 30. Shortly after, a very eruptive far-side asymmetric halo CME became visible.  The anemone region, which is beginning to rotate out of sight, remains stable.

August 30, 2022: Blue sphere that shows bright flares in the southwest edge of the sun.
Sun activity in the past day shows sunspot region AR3088 – now behind the sun’s southwest limb – still flaring mightily. Here’s a M2.1 flare. Image via NASA SDO.

Sun activity August 30: Action in sun’s southern hemisphere

The southern hemisphere is where the action is on the sun now. Sunspot region AR3088 did give us a few final M flares, despite being gone from the sun’s visible surface, carried out of view by the sun’s rotation. But then we saw a quick decrease in the overall GOES X-ray levels, indicating the region’s influence has come to an end. Now we wait to see what another region – AR3089, in the sun’s southern hemisphere – might have to offer. It grew quickly in size over the past day and also increased in magnetic complexity. It now appears to have X-flare potential. Meanwhile, the prominence in the southeast continued its dance over the solar limb (edge). A filament near solar disk center erupted with a signature “valley of fire” as it ripped away from the sun. And the expected CME glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field happened yesterday, as expected, causing elevated geomagnetic conditions but no geomagnetic storm. And yet aurora-watchers still saw some excitement in the sky last night, with many reported auroras. See the images below.

Sun activity: Bright spots on red background of partial sphere.
August 30, 2022, sun activity is mostly in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Image via SDO and Helioviewer.

Sun activity August 29: Surge of larger M flares

A big surge in flaring came from AR3088 over the past 24 hours with four M flares, the largest an M8.7 (almost an X-flare, which happened at the time of this writing, around 5:45 a.m. ET or 9:45 UTC on August 29). The region has now rotated out of view so this flaring is coming from around the sun’s western limb (edge). This means the flares were probably larger than what was recorded since the flares were partially blocked or occulted by the sun itself. It’s a good thing AR3088 is gone. Large flares and proton storms would not have been ideal for the Artemis 1 launch, which was scheduled for today (but is now in a hold; updates on Artemis 1 here). In other news, it appears the CME glancing blow has come. Auroras are still possible on August 29 with a G1 geomagnetic storm watch still in place. The anemone region – discussed first on August 25 – remains stable. It has not degraded, and has a clearly visible sunspot region, AR3086, still embedded within a coronal hole.

Sun activity: Teal quarter disk with a bright area on the edge
Sun activity for August 29, 2022: AR3088 produced 3 M flares, starting with an M6.7 then M4.9, and M3.3 on August 28 and 29, 2022. The images are 131 angstrom wavelength from SDO. Image via SDO.

To our readers and community

We invite you all to send us your beautiful recent photos of sunspots and auroras. We love receiving your photos! To those of you who’ve already posted a photo to our community, thank you.

Submit photos here

View community photos here

The sun, seen as a large orange sphere with a mottled surface.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Mario Rana in Hampton, Virginia, captured this filtered image on September 4, 2022, and wrote: “Hydrogen-alpha image of the Sun featuring sunspot regions AR3089, AR3092, AR3093, and AR3094. There are also some beautiful filaments and prominences!” Thank you, Mario!
Aurora borealis: Green and purple curtains of light with vertical filaments.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Diane Rains in Hudson, Wisconsin, captured this photo on September 4, 2022, and wrote “Looking due north out my second story bedroom window at 5:30 am, spectacular Aurora Borealis dances with Draco the Dragon and Ursa Major, the Great Bear. This aurora was a hidden treasure that I happened upon accidentally while photographing stars out my window. To the unaided eye, the aurora appeared as a faint white veil. Some subtle shifting of the light curtain made me wonder if this was indeed the Northern Lights. It wasn’t until the superior light gathering prowess of my camera lens grabbed the image that I saw the aurora’s spectacular colors. And I gasped out loud! It has been decades since I’ve witnessed nature’s finest light show!” Thank you, Diane!
The sun, seen as a sectional yellow sphere with a mottled surface.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | David Hoskin in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, captured this filtered image on September 3, 2022, and wrote: “Lots of activity is visible in the Sun’s southern hemisphere in this hydrogen-alpha image captured yesterday afternoon. Sunspot group AR3092 is in the bottom right corner and departing sunspot group AR3089 is in the upper left corner. Prominences and filaments are quite striking!” Thank you, David!
The sun, seen as a sectional yellow sphere with a mottled surface.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Robert R. Gaudet in Pennfield, New Brunswick, Canada, captured this hydrogen-alpha filtered image on September 3, 2022, and wrote: “Sunspot 3092 and 3093 and a rather large filament are visible in this capture.” Thank you, Robert!

Bottom line: Sun activity for the week of August 29, 2022: The sun kicked things off on August 29 with a surge of M flares and action from sunspot region AR3088, which happened to flare up big-time on Wednesday, August 31. Then, on September 1, we celebrated Parker Solar Probe’s 13th perihelion, its closest point to the sun! The action, however, really began to heat up on September 3, when a fiery filament erupted, producing a coronal mass ejection (CME). This gave way to some beautiful auroras all across the Northern Hemisphere from the northern U.S., Canada and northern Europe by the end of the week on September 5.

Looking for earlier sun activity posts? Click here

Posted 
August 29, 2022
 in 
Space

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