Sun activity: Quiet and calm
May 16 update: Sun activity calm and quiet
Much as in the past few days, the sun is quiet. There have been beautiful flares and prominences, but all in the C flare range (“small with few noticeable consequences on Earth”). Sunspot region AR3007 – which rotated into view around May 9 and has provided some activity – has grown in size and complexity. At this time, its activity is low, too, although it’s still in a position to become more active.
Newcomer sunspot regions AR3011, AR3014 and AR3015 have been erupting, even as they were hiding behind the northeastern limb (or edge) of the sun. Strong activity is expected to arise from those regions in the future.
The coronal hole we saw last week has also been growing in size, too. And, looking towards the west, another coronal hole has appeared. Coronal holes contribute to a high-speed solar wind, among other strong solar phenomena.
May 15 update: Beautiful prominence eruption
Sun activity remains low, but there are still signs it will pick up soon! The new region on the northeast of the sun is about to rotate fully into view. It fired off an M2.3 solar flare on May 15. There might be more in store from this region. The rest of the activity from regions across the sun has stayed in the C-flare range. Chances for more solar flares are 99% for C-flares, 35% for M and 10% for X. A beautiful prominence erupted off the southeast of the sun toward the end of May 14. It and any other CMEs produced do not appear to be Earth-directed.
The solar wind has picked up slightly, perhaps due to the May 10 CME‘s glancing blow. But any impact is minor. Geomagnetic activity is expected to be unsettled on May 16 and May 17 as the high-speed solar wind from a coronal hole reaches Earth.
May 14 update: Possible glancing CME
Sun activity is low. A new region on the northeast limb has rotated into view and is numbered AR3011. The sun’s disk is covered with seven numbered regions but flaring levels have stayed at C. Most of the activity came from AR3007. Flaring chances are 99% for C-flares, 45% for M, and 10% X. Forecasters still await a possible glancing blow impact on May 14 or 15 from the May 10 CME. The solar wind from the coronal hole (see image below in the May 12 update) might increase geomagnetic activity at Earth on May 16.
May 13 update: Sun activity moderate, possible glancing CME
Today’s sun activity, much like yesterday’s, is moderate. The largest activity came from the as yet unnumbered region just out of sight on the northeast limb. The region, which we have been seeing through helioseismology, produced an M1.4 flare yesterday. The newly numbered region, AR3010 produced a C8 flare yesterday. Regions AR3006 and AR3007 continue to produce C-flares and AR3008 and AR3009 remain quiet. The chance of flaring is 99% for C-class, 50% for M, and 15% for an X-flare.
Space weather forecasters expect geomagnetic activity at Earth to remain low with a chance for increased activity from the May 10 CMEs on May 13-15. This might mean some aurora for high latitude observers this weekend.
M Flare! An M1.4 flare peaking at 20:18 U.T. from behind the northeastern limb. The Sun is getting busy. pic.twitter.com/8GPPnxyw7t
— Keith Strong (@drkstrong) May 13, 2022
May 12 update: Moderate, possible glancing CME
As day begins on May 12, 2022, sun activity is moderate. Region AR3007 produced an M1.6 flare yesterday, and this region still appears magnetically complex, meaning it has great potential for continued flaring. Meanwhile, an M2.6 flare occurred just over the sun’s western limb, probably from the old region AR3004. At this time a CME has not been seen.
Geomagnetic activity is expected to continue at low levels. The CMEs from May 10 are largely predicted to miss Earth. But the CMEs could still graze Earth, sparking a G1 geomagnetic storm late May 13 or early May 14.
A week of sun fun: May 5 to 12
A week of sun fun! A look at solar activity sliding through SDO 304/171/193/131 wavelengths as time progresses from May 5 to early May 12. ????? pic.twitter.com/XQYIhtUY9z
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) May 12, 2022
May 11 sun activity update: Rare magnetic crochet and CMEs
The sun is quiet again, following yesterday’s X-flare from AR3006. The X-flare happened around 13:55 UTC on May 10, 2022. A lot of activity occurred at and around this time. The X-flare event produced an EIT wave, a sort of tsunami on the sun’s surface. Scientists also observed a weak, rare solar flare effect called a magnetic crochet. Dayside magnetometers on Earth picked it up.
Crochets are a sudden change in Earth’s magnetic field, caused by the generation of electric currents high in Earth’s atmosphere, in the ionosphere. In other words, the sudden X-ray burst temporarily changes this layer of our atmosphere. Yesterday’s X-flare also caused a radio blackout over Earth’s dayside. Plus, associated with the X-flare, almost simultaneously, region AR3007 produced a C4.7 flare and CME. A CME was first clearly observed in SOHO/LASCO but space weather forecasters are uncertain whether this is a CME from the AR3007 eruption, the X-flare, or both.
CME fun with SOHO! Lots of excitement May 10/11. An X-flare with EIT wave, nearly simultaneous flare/CME from a nearby region both after a SW filament eruption. This means there is much to sort out CME wise so soon we should see more definite models about what is coming. ????? pic.twitter.com/1OplJo59Ba
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) May 11, 2022
The latest X1.5 flare from AR 13006 was eruptive, marked by a gorgeous coronal wave.
But the possible effect on Earth may need professional evaluation by @TamithaSkov @erikapal and @chrisoutofspace . This may be only a glancing blow as the CME was largely directed south. https://t.co/WcWsmsXL4i pic.twitter.com/ped0sXoKEg
— Halo CME (@halocme) May 10, 2022
May 10 sun activity update: X-flare from AR3006!
Active region AR3006 on the sun released an X-flare just now, peaking around 13:55 UTC (8:55 a.m. CDT) on May 10, 2022. The region is just south of the center of the sun’s disk. So it’s pointed directly towards Earth. If there was a CME, it’ll be directed towards us. However, this is an “impulsive” solar flare, which typically means no CME. There’s a good chance for more from this region. In the meantime, we’ll have to wait for more data.
The X-flare was a surprise, by the way, as today had started off quietly.
And we are also anticipating the return (from behind the sun) of some of our the most exciting regions from a few weeks ago, AR2993/2994. Why are we anticipating this return? It’s from looking at the far side of the sun, via helioseismology. In other words, there appears to be a sunspot region closely behind the northeastern limb, or edge, of the sun, the side that’s rotating into view. So AR2993/AR2994 should rotate into view in a few days. See the maps at Raben and at Stanford Seismic Monitor.
That’s X folks! An X-flare from AR3006 is in progress. It peaked at 13:50 UT. It caused an R3 radio blackout over the Atlantic. The region is looking right at us so if there was a CME, lookout – it was a very impulsive event and initial indications point to no CME. ????? pic.twitter.com/cF9pB5ZLMs
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) May 10, 2022
May 9 update: Low sun activity
All is quiet. But a new region, AR3007, has rotated into view on the sun’s east limb (edge). It produced the largest event of the past 24 hours, a C8 solar flare. The region AR3004, now on the sun’s west limb, will soon rotate out of view. It still has the most magnetic potential. A substantial region can still be observed on the far side using helioseismology. And here’s something interesting to note. Solar wind speeds are low. Speeds are ranging between 260 and 360 km/s (about 600,000 to 800,000 mph). A typical speed for high-speed solar wind is around 600-800 km/s.
Meanwhile, no new Earth-directed CMEs have been observed. We await a possible glancing blow from the May 7 CME to provide an increase in the solar wind. This may create some geomagnetic activity and enhanced auroras on May 10 and 11.
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.
Recent sun photos from EarthSky’s community
Bottom line: May 16, 2022, sun activity continued calm and quiet on the lower levels as of today. Sunspot regions that have been active since they were on the far side of the sun now at sight are the promise for activity. Stay tuned.