Sun activity: Bam! X Flare!
April 17: X-flare!
Newcomer sunspot region AR2994 blasted out an X-flare at 3:34 UTC this morning (April 17, 2022). Before the blast, we saw a very active northeast limb (edge) of the sun. There seemed to be action on the sun’s far side, too. And now the sun’s rotation has carried some of that action into view. The old sunspot regions AR2975 and AR2976 – last seen some days back before the sun’s rotation carried them out of view – have merged. The newly arrived sunspots are labeled AR2993 and AR2994. Plus, there is one more sunspot in this region, barely showing. All this is happening on the sun’s northeast limb.
A busy week is anticipated with C- and M-class flares and possibly even more X-flares.Stay tuned!
Fantastic! Check out the Xflare with a nice eruption in SUVI 304 angstrom! Explosive! That should make a nice CME ??? pic.twitter.com/xd8lmnfhqg
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) April 17, 2022
April 16: Sun activity picking up
The sun was busy with multiple flares – between C- and M-class – on Friday and again so far this morning (April 16, 2022)! Most activity had been on the far side, the side we’re currently not seeing from Earth. You can see a classic “lightbulb” shape in a (non-Earth-directed) CME released from one of the flares on the sun’s limb. See the video in Alex’s tweet, below.
A primary flare source appears to be the old sunspot AR2975. There’s lots of chatter online about this region, and about what it’ll be re-named when it comes fully into view, probably around April 17. The sun rotates approximately once every 27 days. So the same sunspots might come into view on the Earth-facing side again and again. Each time, they get a new label.
YAY! Our new friend making some beautiful music! The first 13 hours, April 15 in SDO 171 /131 combined. Shows us the loops, material, and flare activity ~ 600,000 to 10 million kelvin. Notice the classic lightbulb-shape eruption. HOT!! Next week could be very exciting.??? pic.twitter.com/Vyn8mOZh4x
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) April 15, 2022
April 14: G2 geomagnetic storm is here
A G2 geomagnetic storm – a moderate storm – is ongoing. The Earth-directed CME from the beautiful filament eruption on April 11, 2022, has arrived. By midday on April 14 (according to clocks in North America), the Kp index – which describes the disturbance to Earth’s magnetic field by the solar wind – reached 5 (mild) and may rise to 6 (moderate). Be on the alert for auroras in the next few days. Latitudes like those in the northern United States might see auroras.
According to NOAA’s Space Weather Scales, during a G2-class storm:
Power systems: High-latitude power systems may experience voltage alarms, long-duration storms may cause transformer damage.
Spacecraft operations: Corrective actions to orientation may be required by ground control; possible changes in drag affect orbit predictions.
Other systems: HF radio propagation can fade at higher latitudes, and aurora has been seen as low as New York and Idaho (typically 55 degrees geomagnetic latitude.).
April 14: The sun over the past week
The sun was largely spotless over the past week but there was still a lot going on – including lots of filaments one of which is getting here probably any moment. Most action was from 6 non-Earth-directed CMEs. A look at the week from SDO, 171, 304, 193, and white light. ??? pic.twitter.com/QaKuEeIz3Z
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) April 14, 2022
April 12: Yesterday’s S-shaped filament eruption
Yesterday, the old sunspot group AR2987 produced an eruptive C1-class solar flare, and more is known about it now. Observers had thought this region was inactive. Spaceweather.com therefore called it the corpse of an old sunspot. The eruption produced a full-halo CME, and the CME is coming our way. Last night, researchers said it might cause a G1-class geomagnetic storm upon reaching Earth’s vicinity. Since then, their prediction has been updated to G2. They are expecting the CME to arrive by April 14, 2022.
In the photo below, note the “S” shape of the filament as it erupts. Early X-ray solar telescopes, such as Yohkoh, were the first to see this S-shaped eruption on the sun clearly and report it widely, in the 1990s. Solar physicists call this S shape a sigmoid. We expect to see more of this sort of eruption as solar activity picks up. It is a signature of strongly built-up magnetic energy in the corona, usually in active regions, and consequently a sign of strong flaring potential and CME eruptions. A very useful signature for predicting strong eruptions!
Sun activity from April 11: Beautiful filament eruption
The sun’s activity picked up on April 11, 2022, with a beautiful filament eruption that simultaneously sent a CME heading our way. NOAA and NASA CME models are not out yet, but we expect the CME to reach Earth around April 13. We wait for updates throughout the day.
Filaments are long ropes of magnetism and solar material supported in the sun’s corona by magnetic fields tied to the sun. They’re the same thing as those great arcs, or prominences, we sometimes see extending from the limb, or edge, of the sun. They’re called filaments, instead of prominences, when seen centrally on the sun. Filaments may originate days to months before they become unstable and get launched into space. After their launch, they send a coronal mass ejection, or CME, hurtling outward.
The series of tweets below show the filament erupting in four different wavelengths of extreme ultraviolet light captured by the SDO spacecraft. First, we see a global view one wavelength after another; below, a closeup with all four wavelengths at the same time. Finally, using the SOHO/LASCO coronagraph, the CME shows up moving away from the sun towards Earth.
Beautiful filament eruption in 4 SDO wavelengths – coolest to hottest. ~80,000 degrees up to several million. Eruption is in the direction of Earth so maybe it will provide some night lights in the sky for us. Should be around the 13th or so. Waiting for models. ???? pic.twitter.com/tTCNOFxuAa
— Dr. C. Alex Young (@TheSunToday) April 11, 2022
Beautiful filament eruption as seen by SDO in different wavelengths. pic.twitter.com/xB7z8tThtw
— Edward.Vijayakumar (@edwanx) April 11, 2022
Filament eruption launched a nice halo CME towards Earth and is expected to impact on April 13th. pic.twitter.com/Et35oNfoZU
— Edward.Vijayakumar (@edwanx) April 11, 2022
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Bottom line: Sun activity for the week of April 11, 2022, is relatively low; however, there is some to look for. Sun observers expect the CME from an April 11 eruption on the sun to reach Earth April 14.