Sun

Sun activity: Possible CME sideswipe weekend of March 18

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Yellow and black image of sun activity  with streamers at top right and left.
Sun activity for March 19, 2022. As you can see from the image, most of the activity right now is occurring on the limbs of the sun, as seen from Earth’s perspective. Image via NASA SDO.

Sun activity: More coming, maybe

Another CME impact might be on its way. The second CME this week isn’t from a solar flare, as many CMEs are; it’s from a filament eruption that happened on March 16. Solar filaments are long ropes of solar material held down by magnetic fields. They’re the same pink-red structures you see around a darkened moon during total solar eclipses. In this case, the magnetic fields shifted in such a way that the filament detached from the sun, sending a CME our way.

NASA and NOAA models for the March 16 CME’s arrival time vary a little, but together they give an expected arrival of between March 18 and March 20.

This weekend’s CME will probably just sideswipe us; but this CME sideswipe could disturb Earth’s magnetic field enough to produce a minor geomagnetic storm (G1-class) and that would mean more auroras!

NOAA’s model

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center model has a CME arrival of March 18.

Schematic representations of possible CME paths.
A snapshot of the NOAA ENLIL model with the CME arriving at Earth at the end of March 18. Earth is the yellow circle on the left image showing the solar system. The left image shows the top-down view. Center image shows the side view at Earth. Right image shows the stretched out view with Earth at the center. Image via NOAA.

NASA’s model

NASA has a CME arrival of March 20. Both models have a time range of plus or minus 7 hours.

Animated gif of the ENLIL model for March 15 to 25, 2022.This shows the CME leaving the sun on March 16, reaching Earth on March 20. Earth is the yellow circle on the left image showing the solar system. The left image shows the top-down view. Center image shows the side view at Earth. Right image shows the stretched out view with Earth at the center. Image via NASA.

AR2965 is rotating out of view

The large sunspot region AR2965 gave us some exciting activity last week, including an Earth-directed CME and several M-class solar flares. It is still visible on the sun, but the sun’s rotation has almost carried it out of our view.

Happy people, gorgeous auroras

Panoramic view of the night sky with full moon and green aurora.
Aurora Borealis seen on March 15, 2022 at Kvaløya, Tromso, Norway. Via Marianne Bergil.

How auroras are created

Bottom line: Sun activity for March 18, 2022. A CME from the sun might deliver a glancing blow to our planet the weekend of March 18 to March 20. Stay tuned!

Posted 
March 19, 2022
 in 
Sun

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