Sun activity: Week of May 2, 2022

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The sun, seen as a large yellow sphere with small dark spots.
Today’s sun with the most active regions labeled (1 UTC on May 8, 2022). View original image, without labels, via NASA SDO. Today’s sun is posted by Armando Caussade.

May 8 update: Loads of filaments

Overall, sun activity remains quiet, with only a few C-class flares. But the sun does have several beautiful filaments across its disk. Some of them arc above the sun for a distance comparable to that between the Earth and moon! Filaments can remain stable for days or weeks, or one of them could erupt and send a CME in our direction.

Sun-watchers did see a CME on May 6. Initial analysis points to a possible glancing blow at Earth late May 10, possibly enhancing auroras.

May 7 update: Low sun activity, but large region looming

The two most active regions on the Earth-facing side of the sun now are AR3004 and AR3006. They’ve both produced only C-flares over the past 24 hours, with the largest event a C4 from AR3004. Meanwhile – looking at the backside of the sun using helioseismology – we see a large dark area, which indicates a possible sunspot group that could rotate into view in the coming week. This could mean more activity is on its way.

Geomagnetic activity could increase slightly with the passage of the May 3 CME. But otherwise these levels are low.

May 6 update: AR3004 decay, AR3006 stronger

This week is ending after eye-catching activity from sunspots AR3004 and AR3006. The active region AR3004 is the one that had the X-flare on Tuesday (May 3, 2022). It continued the week with intense activity, mostly in the ranges of C- and M-flares. But AR3004 is now moving toward the sun’s western limb (the side that will soon rotate out of view), and it is predicted to decay.

Meanwhile, AR3006 – now coming into better view on the eastern side of the sun – is the next sunspot region to watch. This region looks complex and strong. It also had some M-flares this week, including an M2.76 flare on May 5.

All the weak flares in recent days produced minor CMEs which – accumulated – might provoke minor G1-class geomagnetic storms, predicted to start arriving at Earth by May 9.

The sun, seen as a large yellow sphere with small dark spots.
Today’s sun with the most active regions labeled (4 UTC on May 7, 2022). View original image, without labels, via NASA SDO. Today’s sun is posted by Armando Caussade.

Sun activity video: April 28 to May 5

May 5 update: Activity mostly from 2 regions

Region AR3004 has been continuously active over the past day. The sunspots produced more than 15 C-flares and three M-flares. This region produced an M5 flare earlier on May 4 not long after newly labeled region AR3006 produced an M5 flare on the southeast limb.

The M5.7 flare from AR3004 also had an associated weak CME. NASA has modeled it along with high-speed solar wind. They have estimated that the CME and solar wind will reach Earth no earlier than May 8.

Read more: Why are east and west on the sun reversed?.

May 4 update: Snap, crackle, pop!

May the 4th is with us! And the sun is celebrating, too – with overall activity picking up – after yesterday’s X-flare. During the day yesterday (May 3, 2022), after the X-flare, the same region produced 5 C-class flares and then an M5 flare resulting in an R3 radio blackout. The active region near the sun’s disk center, AR3004, picked up the torch with 6 C-class flares and then an M5.7, also resulting in an R3 radio blackout. And we also have a busy southeast limb (edge) of the sun, with increased activity from AR3004.

May 3 update: X-flare!

The sun blasted out an X-flare on the morning of May 3, 2022. This flare has reached the level of X1.13. A strong ongoing R3 radio blackout is affecting primarily West Africa.

Moments before the X-flare, the sun was calm and quiet. Almost spotless. Yet, the X-ray flux chart showed something interesting. Last week, before Saturday’s X-flare at the northeast limb, the chart showed a curve going down before the flare. Then it showed ascending peaks until we got that X-flare. Today the chart showed a similar tendency. Going down, then going up with ascending peaks. And, sure enough, the sun produced an X-flare.

Sun activity X1.13 flare as of 13 UTC on May 3, 2022. Image via NOAA.

May 2 update: Sun activity low today

The news on May 2, 2022, is that – following last weekend’s X-flare – the sun has come down to a lower level of activity than last week. X-ray levels from sunspot regions are low, and we see an almost spotless solar disk.

A former active region – AR2992 – is only about one day away from rotating back into view. It’ll appear on the sun’s southeast limb. And, as always, when it reappears, it’ll bear a new label. This region was very active before it disappeared behind the sun some days ago. Will it be active again?

A beautiful prominence (filament) from the northeast limb (edge) of the sun on May 1, 2022. 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

View community photos here

View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Arie Brandt in Central Coast, NSW, Australia, captured this beautiful photo of anticrepuscular rays at sunrise on May 3, 2022, and wrote: “Sunrise from our deck. We often see this phenomenon. The blue rays are anticrepuscular rays but I prefer to call them ‘Sapphire Beauties’.” Beautiful photo, Arie! Many thanks.
Yellow sphere with a flare coming from the bottom left of the image.
View at EarthSky Community Photos. | Jason Dain in Stillwater Lake, Nova Scotia, Canada, captured this solar flare on May 3, 2022, and wrote: “The sun from my backyard shortly after a X1 solar flare this morning. I had just noticed an M class flare and got my scope set up when the X class flare erupted. It was really cool to see in the eyepiece and to photograph. I wish I had time to create a timelapse for this.” Thank you, Jason!

Bottom line: Sun activity for the week of May 2 to 8, 2022. The week ended quietly, but with beautiful prominences from solar region AR3007.

May 2, 2022

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