Sun activity: Week of July 11, 2022

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July 15, 2022 A violent filament eruption on the solar disk.
July 15, 2022 A violent filament eruption on the solar disk produced a valley of fire. AIA 304 angstrom image via SDO Helioviewer.

July 17 update: Lots of filament eruptions

Today’s top sun news:  A least three more filaments erupted after yesterday’s giant filament lifted off. The most spectacular of the bunch untwisted itself into space off the sun’s southwest limb (edge). There was continued moderate sun activity with another M flare from AR3055. It produced a CME that is still being analyzed. Yesterday’s large filament did produce an Earth-directed CME that NASA estimates will impact Earth on July 19 toward the beginning of the day. It could produce auroras well into the northern U.S. (mid-latitudes). There are some large coronal holes in the east of the sun’s disk that could provide some fast solar wind at Earth later in the week.
Last 24 hours: Sun activity is moderate, with the highest flare an M1.4 from AR3055 at 15:40 UTC on July 16. The flare produced an R1 (minor) radio blackout over the Atlantic. The sun has eight labeled active sunspot regions. Over the past 24 hours, there were 8 C flares and one M flare. The main players are AR3053 and AR3055.
Next 24 hours: The flare forecast is 99% chance for C flares, 45% for M flares, and 10% for X flares.
Next expected CME: An Earth-directed CME produced by the large filament on July 15 might reach the Earth by early July 19.
Current geomagnetic activity: Quiet.

Quarter red globe (the sun) with an Earth icon for scale.
In recent sun activity, an untwisting filament on the southwest limb of the sun erupts as seen in SDO 304 angstroms. Image via SDO and Helioviewer.

July 16 update: Spectacular filament eruption

A vast filament erupted on the sun at 17:32 UTC on July 15. It erupted from a great “valley of fire,” or rift in the sun’s atmosphere, around the center on the solar disk, north of the equator. Check out the beautiful images on this page! The event produced a CME, which was recorded by the the SOHO space observatory shortly after the eruption. Due to its position on the sun, the CME is aimed toward Earth. It might reach the Earth by July 19. Crossed fingers for auroras chasers.

July 15, 2022 Sun activity a filament eruption.
Sun activity on July 15, 2022: A large filament erupted from a “valley of fire” – a rift – in the sun’s atmosphere. AIA 304 angstrom. Image via SDO Helioviewer.

July 15, 2022 Solar activity showing a large filament.
July 15, 2022: A large, gorgeous filament in the process of exploding, seen at AIA 193 angstrom. Image via SDO IMSAL.
The sun, seen as a large yellow sphere with small dark spots.
Today’s sun activity with the most active regions labeled (17 UTC on July 17, 2022; we should note that, as of 4 UTC on July 18, no newer images from the SDO probe were available). Original image, without labels, via NASA SDO. Today’s sun is posted by Armando Caussade. Why are east and west on the sun reversed?

July 15 update: Hello, newcomer sunspot AR3058!

Newcomer sunspot AR3058 is showing nice activity with an almost M3 flare (M2.98)! The flare happened late yesterday (21:40 UTC on July 14, 2022). It produced a R1 (minor) radio blackout that affected the Pacific Ocean over Hawaii.

July 14, 2022: The sun in 3 different images (blue, green and yellow) shows the activity from sunspot AR3058 at the northeast.
July 14, 2022. Sun activity with a composite of sunspot AR3058 with its today’s M2.98 flare. Image via SDO.
July 14, 2022: World map with rainbow colors. Red and yellow reach the Pacific Ocean. The rest of the colors reach North and Central America and east Asia. Most countries of Europe and Africa are in black.
July 14, 2022. A R1 (minor) radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean caused by a M2.98 flare from sunspot regios AR3058. Image via NOAA.

July 14 update: A comet dives into the sun

Yesterday, we saw the sun’s innermost planet Mercury, nearly behind the sun as seen by NASA’s STEREO spacecraft (see our July 13 update). Looking from a slightly different perspective with the SOHO spacecraft, we also saw a comet yesterday, heading toward the sun. Sun-diving comets like this one typically evaporate (the tweet below has an animation of the event).

A small, shiny comet with a little tail diving into the sun in the lower right of the image. Mercury is also bright, there’s is a line of light crossing the planet. Mercury is in the upper right of the image.
July 13, 2022. Sun-diving comet! No one saw it come back out … It probably didn’t survive. The bright object in the upper right of this image is Mercury. Image via SOHO, SDO, and Helioviewer.

July 13 update: Mercury nearly behind the sun

The sun’s innermost planet, Mercury, was one of the five planets visible before sunup in late June and early July. But now Mercury has disappeared back into the sun’s glare as seen from Earth. It will pass behind the sun from Earth at superior conjunction around 20 UTC on July 16. NASA’s STEREO sun observatory caught the cool video above from July 7 to 10, 2022. It shows what we can’t see from Earth: Mercury sailing toward the sun, about to pass behind it (although not directly behind, this time). The little planet will emerge again, in the west after sunset, by this month’s end.

This video from NASA’s STEREO space observatory extends over several days: July 7 to 10, 2022. It shows a CME from the far side of the sun, as the sun’s innermost planet, Mercury, moves toward passing behind the sun. Image via Helioviewer.

Grey sun with white pixels in line above and below sun's equator.
Flare distribution on the sun during the last 2 weeks, as of July 13, 2022. It is interesting to note the distribution of the sunspots on the solar disk. They are located at similar latitudes on both, north and south of the sun equator. A similar distribution can be seen in flare production. This is part of the pattern of the solar cycle. The solar cycle doesn’t just tell us how many and how big sunspots will be but also their location on the sun. The location of sunspots and hence solar flares is at latitudes around 30 to 35 degrees at the beginning of the cycle, solar minimum. As the solar cycle progress toward solar max, sunspots and their associated flares will migrate toward the sun’s equator. They migrate to about 7 degrees latitude at solar max then sunspots for the next cycle begin appearing back at the higher latitudes. The process starts all over again. Interesting! Image via SIDC.

July 12 update: A beautiful prominence!

Sun activity is still moderate. The majestic prominence on the sun’s southwest limb (edge) produced a coronal mass ejection, or CME. But it blasted outward from the far side of the sun and so isn’t Earth-oriented. Today’s sun shows large sunspot regions and interesting filaments. There are three active regions on the sun now with sunspot areas larger than Earth: AR3053, AR3055 and AR3057. AR3053 is 1.5 times the area of Earth, AR3055 5 times and AR3057 2 times. AR3056 is magnetically complex enough to indicate the possibility of an X flare. AR3053 is now positioned west of the solar central meridian above the sun’s equator. And AR3055 is on the central solar meridian south of the equator. Both are good candidates for flare-producing. Today, Mercury can be seen on the SOHO model. Looks gorgeous! See photo below.

July 12, 2022. Today SOHO model shows Mercury in transit.
July 12, 2022, SOHO model shows Mercury in transit. Image via SOHO.
July 12, 2022. Sun today shows large sunspot active regions and interesting filaments.
July 12, 2022, sun shows large sunspot regions and interesting filaments. AIA 304-angstrom image via NASA SDO.
July 11, 2022 Sun activity shows a beautiful prominence on the Southwest limb.
July 11, 2022 sun activity showed a beautiful prominence on the sun’s southwest limb. AIA 304-angstrom image via Helioviewer.

July 11 sun activity update: M flares!

Sun activity is up! It’s moderate, with two M flares from active region AR3056 in the past day. AR3056 recently rotated onto the solar disk and now shows a lot of promise for further activity. The region is magnetically complex enough to indicate the possibility for an X flare. It has what’s called a delta configuration, meaning it has opposite polarity magnetic fields (north and south) mixed within the inner part of one of its sunspots. This region is worth keeping an eye on. There has also been some nice prominence activity including a large prominence arcing outwards from the sun’s southwest limb (edge).

Partial teal globe (the sun) with a bright flash (solar flare) and a small Earth globe for scale
An M1.3 solar flare from AR3056 on July 10. This sun activity event was captured in 131 angstrom extreme ultraviolet light by 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 your image here

Recent sun pics, from EarthSky’s community

The sun, seen as a yellowish sphere with labeled dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Joel Weatherly in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, captured this white-light filtered view of the sun on July 17, 2022, and wrote “The sun is sporting some lovely sunspots today. Hopefully, our recent solar activity will translate into increased solar activity as a coronal mass ejection is forecasted to reach Earth later this week.” Thank you, Joel!
Large, fiery setting sun with buildings in the forground.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Raúl Cortés of Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico, captured this setting sun on July 17, 2022 over San Pedro Garza García. Thank you, Raúl!
The sun, seen as a yellow sphere with dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Steve Wilson in Salina, Kansas, captured this white-light filtered view of the sun on July 17, 2022, and wrote “With all the solar activity today, I got my camera out to start taking pictures of the Sun. ISO 800 for 1/1600 second. Can see a lot of sunspot clusters and individual sunspots as well. Very impressed by this.” Thank you, Steve!
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 July 17, 2022, and wrote: “Hydrogen-alpha image of the sun. There’s a beautiful prominence on the southwest limb and a number of active regions including AR3056 and AR 3057.” Thank you, Mario!
The sun, seen as yellowish sphere with dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Eric Thurber in Boise, Idaho, captured this white light filtered view of the sun on July 15, 2022. Thank you, Eric!
The sun, seen as a large whitish sphere with a small dark spots.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Fausto Lubatti in Melegnano, Lombardy, Italy, captured this white-light filtered view of the sun on July 11, 2022. Active areas 3053 and 3055 are plainly visible in this image. Thank you, Fausto!
The sun, seen as a sectional yellowish sphere with a mottled surface.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Randall Kayfes in Tucson, Arizona, captured this hydrogen-alpha filtered view of the sun on July 10, 2022, and wrote “Solar gorgeousness – Seemingly endless solar filaments today – Seemingly something new every day. I sure do love solar maximums compared to our last round of minimums.” Thank you, Randall!

Bottom line: The Sun’s overall activity was slightly elevated from what we’ve seen last week. At the beginning of the week, on July 10, we saw an M1 flare. We then ended our week with prominences and filament eruptions. We even saw a comet dive into the sun on July 14! What a sight to see!

Why are east and west on the sun reversed?

July 11, 2022

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