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Sunspot 1302 continues to turn toward Earth

Date:
September 26, 2011
Source:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Summary:
A strong-to-severe (Kp=8) geomagnetic storm is in progress following the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) at approximately 8:15a.m. EDT (12:15 UT) on Sept. 26. The Goddard Space Weather Lab reported a strong compression of Earth's magnetosphere. Simulations indicate that solar wind plasma has penetrated close to geosynchronous orbit starting at 9am. Geosynchronous satellites could therefore be directly exposed to solar wind plasma and magnetic fields. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall.

Sunspot 1302 has already produced two X-flares (X1.4 on Sept. 22 and X1.9 on Sept. 24th). Each of the dark cores in this image from SDO is larger than Earth, and the entire active region stretches more than 100,000 km from end to end. The sunspot's magnetic field is currently crackling with sub-X-class flares that could grow into larger eruptions as the sunspot continues to turn toward Earth.
Credit: NASA/SDO/HMI

A strong-to-severe (Kp=8) geomagnetic storm is in progress following the impact of a coronal mass ejection (CME) at approximately 8:15a.m. EDT (12:15 UT) on Sept. 26. The Goddard Space Weather Lab reported a strong compression of Earth's magnetosphere. Simulations indicate that solar wind plasma has penetrated close to geosynchronous orbit starting at 9am. Geosynchronous satellites could therefore be directly exposed to solar wind plasma and magnetic fields. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall.

Behemoth sunspot 1302 unleashed another strong flare on Saturday morning -- an X1.9-category blast at 5:40 am EDT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash.

NASA images showing a shadowy shock wave racing away from the blast site are a sign that the blast produced a coronal mass ejection (CME) that could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 26.

Since the X1.9-flare, active region (AR) 1302 has unleashed M8.6 and M7.4 flares on Sept. 24 and an M8.8 flare early on Sept. 25. None of the blasts have been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead. AR1302 is growing and shows no immediate signs of quieting down.

What is a solar flare? What is a coronal mass ejection?

For answers to these and other space weather questions, visit NASA's Spaceweather Frequently Asked Questions page at: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/spaceweather/index.html.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Sunspot 1302 continues to turn toward Earth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926173129.htm>.
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. (2011, September 26). Sunspot 1302 continues to turn toward Earth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926173129.htm
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. "Sunspot 1302 continues to turn toward Earth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110926173129.htm (accessed April 18, 2014).

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