M class solar flare today

Dr. Leif Svalgaard writes in a short email:

M6.6 flare kicks F10.7 to 126 sfu

Here’s the flare on the X-ray plot:Here’s the xray image:

So while the sun has been generally quiet recently, it still has its fits of flaring on occasion, as would be expected.

Sunspot group 1158 was responsible for this, and is growing rapidly, here’s a movie:

NASA’s Spaceweather.com made the movie and writes:

The active region is now more than 100,000 km wide with at least a dozen Earth-sized dark cores scattered beneath its unstable magnetic canopy. Earth-directed eruptions are likely in the hours ahead.

You can keep tabs on the sun at WUWT’s Solar Image and Data page

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48 thoughts on “M class solar flare today

  1. “Sun has been quiet recently”?!?!!!? Cool post, and thanks to Dr. S, but I thought this statement was kinda misleading.

  2. Finally, a proper ramp-up seems to be kicking in.
    Perhaps the predicted sunspot curve should be revised upward for once ;)

  3. The flare was expected because active region 1158 is really two active regions colliding and hence making for a very twisted and complicated magnetic field. The very high F10.7 reading is sort of a fluke. At large flare always adds a bit extra to F10.7. The high value of 126 will not last long, but there is no doubt that we had significant activity. Let’s wait for the noon/afternoon value of F10.7 and see what it settles down to.

  4. Leif Svalgaard says:
    February 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm
    Let’s wait for the noon/afternoon value of F10.7 and see what it settles down to.
    Noon values: observed=106.7, adjusted=104.1

  5. Thank you Dr. L. What are your thoughts on X class flares emitting from solar spot 1158 over the next 96 hrs. If they do occur will it be unsafe for air travel? Regards Jim

  6. Jim Frohnapfel says:
    February 13, 2011 at 1:59 pm
    What are your thoughts on X class flares emitting from solar spot 1158 over the next 96 hrs.
    X-flare is definitely possible as the magnetic field is still all twisted up.
    If they do occur will it be unsafe for air travel?
    No, as the dangerous flare emission is absorbed by the atmosphere way above commercial flight altitudes. But since the flare occurred at central meridian there were Earth-directed particles. These will arrive in hours to days and could be dangerous.

  7. Anthony,
    Your soft x-ray snapshot of the flare doesn’t do an M-class flare justice. You can link to my screensave of it, grabbed just as it peaked:

    I judged it “M8″, before NOAA officially classified it M6.6.

    Here’s an animation of sunspot 1158, just as it popped, photographed by the Solar Dynamic Observatory’s extreme-ultraviolet (EUV) AIA sensor (335 angstroms):

  8. You indicated that two regions “twisted together” …

    How far apart do sunspot regions need to be before their mutual repulsion (?) of their individual magnetic fields tend to force them apart – rather than allow them/enable them to twist together? Or would nearby regions always tend to gather together?

  9. Leif Svalgaard says:
    February 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    [...]But since the flare occurred at central meridian there were Earth-directed particles. These will arrive in hours to days and could be dangerous.

    Roll of the dice as far as the danger goes I suppose… Still, if one wishes to continue reproducing without possibility of birth defects, then perhaps a tin foil codpiece is in order?

    Thanks Dr Leif!

  10. racookpe1978 says:
    February 13, 2011 at 6:46 pm
    Or would nearby regions always tend to gather together?
    The formation of sunspots is one of the great unsolved problems in solar physics. From observations we find that a sunspot forms by the coalescence or assembly of many smaller magnetic features rather oppositely to what one would believe in the sense that magnetic elements of the same polarity collect together rather than repelling each other http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/09/070919172911.htm . The process is driven by movements of plasma in the outer layers of the sun. Ken Schatten describes how this may come about http://www.leif.org/research/Percolation%20and%20the%20Solar%20Dynamo.pdf
    The flows of plasma drags the magnetic field with it and is responsible for the twisting.

  11. INGSOC says:
    February 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm
    [...]“But since the flare occurred at central meridian there were Earth-directed particles. These will arrive in hours to days and could be dangerous.”
    Roll of the dice as far as the danger goes I suppose… Still, if one wishes to continue reproducing without possibility of birth defects, then perhaps a tin foil codpiece is in order?

    lead shield, perhaps? well, it is rare that the particles reach all the way down to the surface [only about 70 cases have been observed the past ~60 years] and the exposure would be brief. All in all, I don’t think there is any great danger here. But for astronauts [or satellites] in space the danger is very real.

  12. Live just north of 45n can’t wait to show my wife who’s never seen an Aurora,
    A good display-she spent time in the Yukon, but while the sun was still up….Thanks for your input, Leif…

  13. racookpe1978 says:
    February 13, 2011 at 8:27 pm
    Your linked files (to the sunspot movement) are noted. Thank you.
    I might add that the magnetic field cools the spot. Cooler material sinks within the spot and that drives an inwards flow that helps keep the spot together [and to sweep up small magnetic elements].

  14. Are there any online sites which give a more “real time” report of 10.7 cm flux than Penticton’s thrice-daily measurements?

  15. Walter Dnes says:
    February 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm
    Are there any online sites which give a more “real time” report of 10.7 cm flux than Penticton’s thrice-daily measurements?
    No, not that I know of.

  16. Walter Dnes says:
    February 13, 2011 at 8:54 pm
    Are there any online sites which give a more “real time” report of 10.7 cm flux than Penticton’s thrice-daily measurements?
    There are other stations that measure at other times [and at other frequencies]

    http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/alerts/solar_indices.html

    The frequency closest the F10.7 [2800 MHz] is 2695 MHz. The values at this frequency are a bit smaller than F10.7, but give at least an indication of what is coming.

  17. There are some short movies of this flare as observed by SDO here, showing the flare emission in the various extreme ultraviolet channels of the AIA instrument on SDO.

    These movies were automatically generated from the SolarSoft “latest events” framework.

  18. Dr. Svalgaard, thanks for the utube link to the “trilobite” movie.

    Here’s a similar animation of yesterday’s m-flare: http://www.qsl.net/a/af4ex/images/MflareUV1700A.gif

    Unfortunately not in high resolution like Dr. S.’s movie. And the magnetic polarities are not rendered. But you can get good idea of the magnetic field activity from the dark areas, which are highly magnetic, which you see build up quickly during the flare.

    This is a cropped extract from SDO’s ultraviolet (1700 angstroms) atmospheric imaging assembly (AIA):

    http://sdo.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/

  19. Wow! The sun’s radio flux is over 100, and my area in western MD had 50F (10C) highs yesterday & today — the warmest temps in over 2 months! The snow is finally melting. Titmice (common bird) started singing their “spring” songs.

    That’s all the proof I need. :)

  20. The 10.7cm Flux reading has been so low, since 2005, that a little blip [107] causes a stir.
    The low values for Flux are about 65 {equivalent to a 0% reading}.
    The high values for Flux are about 280 {equivalent to a 100% reading}.

    A 107 reading is therefore only (107-65)/(280-65) = 19% of a normal peak sunspot cycle.

    Also, during a sunspot peak, the very high Flux values last for months.

    The Earth directed flair is more interesting.

    Checkout Wikipedia ->

    “Examples of large solar flares

    The most powerful flare of the last 500 years was the first flare to be observed, on September 1, 1859, and was reported by British astronomer Richard Carrington. The event is named the Solar storm of 1859, or the “Carrington event”. The flare was visible to a naked-eye, and produced stunning auroras down to tropical latitudes such as Cuba or Hawaii, and set telegraph systems on fire.[7] The flare left a trace in Greenland ice in the form of nitrates and beryllium-10, which allow its strength to be measured today (New Scientist, 2005).

    In modern times, the largest solar flare measured with instruments occurred on November 4, 2003 (initially measured at X28 and later upgraded to X45).[8][9] Other large solar flares also occurred on April 2, 2001 (X20), October 28, 2003 (X17) and September 7, 2005 (X17).[10] In 1989, during former solar cycle 22 two large flares occurred in March, 6 (X15) and August, 16 (X20) causing disruptions in electric grids and computer systems.[11] A complete list is available at http://www.spaceweather.com/solarflares/topflares.html

  21. The current cycle, sunspots, will most likely peak late 2012 at no more than 55. Cycle 25 will be of similar amplitude. This will result in around 30 years of sunspot activity below 50 sunspots producing more than average cloud cover. There is normally a delay of up to 5 years before the weather (now climate) is affected. After this, each solar cycle will progressively increase to the peak of the next 10th harmonic.

  22. vukcevic says:Feb 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    “This was ritten in 2003, 8 years ago !”

    Thanks for the link vukcevic, I am glad that others have analysed this and predicted in a similar way.

    My theory is based on historical patterns. The tenth harmonic curve is a little ragged but it is there for all to see. That’s why I could not understand Hathaway et al. predicting cycle 24 to peak up around the 140. This to me (140) was well out of range by +50%. The last 10th harmonic was a beauty with very high amplitudes and on the average shorter solar cycle durations resulting in less cloud cover.

  23. Sunspot says:
    February 14, 2011 at 3:03 pm
    vukcevic says:Feb 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm
    “This was ritten in 2003, 8 years ago !”
    Thanks for the link vukcevic, I am glad that others have analysed this and predicted in a similar way.

    Both assume that the sun is governed by real cycles, which there is hardly any evidence for. I am inclined to think that SC25 might be a large cycle…

  24. Check the junk out on this web site!

    http://www.astronomyreport.com/research/Solar_Flare_Erupts_Directly_At_The_Earth_Should_Hit_Early_Tuesday_Morning.asp

    The Web site information is not too over hyped until we get to these paragraphs……………

    ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

    If the estimated velocity does stay constant, then the bulk of the storm will be absorbed by the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere and the majority of the South American continent in the Southern Hemisphere. This increase in water temperature should cause evaporation leading to heavy precipitation in Western Europe and North Africa over the latter part of the week. South America may see record temperatures for this time of year as well.

    If the storm slows down, then the bulk of the energy may be absorbed by the east coast of North America and by the Andes in South America. In both cases it may cause high elevation water trapped as snow to melt and cause flooding downstream a few days later.

    Continued flares from sunspot 1158 may extend heating
    Though smaller flares, the series of 4 flares following the ‘big one’ may extend the heating affect to most of the North American continent, as well as a portion of the Pacific Ocean. The affects may be more global in nature. We expect heavy precipitation around the globe. Stay tuned for more updates.
    ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

    Correct me if I am wrong , but does this stuff belong in a discussion of Solar weather???????

  25. Dennis Gaskill says:
    February 14, 2011 at 9:50 pm
    Check the junk out on this web site! [...]
    If the estimated velocity does stay constant, then the bulk of the storm will be absorbed by the Atlantic Ocean in the Northern Hemisphere and the majority of the South American continent in the Southern Hemisphere. This increase in water temperature should cause evaporation leading to heavy precipitation…

    Is junk, indeed. But is not much worse than some of the pseudo science peddled by some of the regulars here.

  26. HI guys. Completely new to all this. Tried to read and understand the posts, but not getting it too much. I live in the Philadelphia area, is there a chance to see the Aurora lights here? Would love to get some photos of it. Thanks

    Steve

  27. Steve Olson says:
    February 17, 2011 at 1:42 pm
    HI guys. Completely new to all this. Tried to read and understand the posts, but not getting it too much. I live in the Philadelphia area, is there a chance to see the Aurora lights here?
    Probably not this time around, but watch this blog :-) At some point in time the chance will come and there will be plenty of warning.

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