Big CME hits earth, low latitude auroras possible


From the Rice University Spaceweather listserv

Our space weather alert system is in level yellow, and the CME input of energy to the Earth’s magnetosphere still continues.

So, if you live in northern latitudes, go out and look for auroras tonight!

If this level of input continues, the auroras may be seen at lower latitudes, even the US/Canadian border or below.

To get your own alert messages, send an email to spacalrt-subscribe@mailman.rice.edu

To see our predicted space weather page, go to

http://mms.rice.edu/realtime/forecast.html

If we go “red” the auroras will be much lower latitude.

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Spaceweather.com writes:

Analysts at the Goddard Space Weather Lab say the CME impact caused a strong compression of Earth’s magnetic field, allowing the solar wind to penetrate all the way down to geosyncronous orbit for a brief period between 19:06 UT and 19:11 UT. Earth-orbiting spacecraft could have been directly exposed to solar wind plasma during that time.

Update #2: Strong ground currents have been detected in Norway.


31 thoughts on “Big CME hits earth, low latitude auroras possible

  1. I can see them quite well at times here in southwestern Lower Michigan. They come up to almost overhead and are red to pink and green.

  2. The Auroras are now visible in southern Minnesota, although still faint. About an hour ago there was a rather uniform glow towards the north, but now streaks are starting to form.

  3. The CME is part of a recurring sequence of CME that come from the same place on the Sun and [almost] every time that place is Earth facing [every 27 days] we get a CME that hits the Earth a few days later.

  4. Dr. Svalgaard,

    Am I reading you correctly that we get a CME from that area of the Sun (mostly) every 27 days? Obviously, not all as strong.

  5. David Falkner says:
    October 24, 2011 at 10:29 pm
    Am I reading you correctly that we get a CME from that area of the Sun (mostly) every 27 days? Obviously, not all as strong.
    Basically yes. That area for many months [sometime years] keeps producing CMEs all the time, but only when it is facing Earth [once per solar 27-day rotation] are we prone to be hit by one. We can also get recurrent moderate geomagnetic activity from high-speed streams emanating from large coronal holes. These are not accompanied by CMEs. Here is an interesting account of a series of recurrent intense storms in 1128 AD http://www.ann-geophys.net/19/289/2001/angeo-19-289-2001.pdf

  6. Leif Svalgaard says:
    October 24, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    Basically yes. That area for many months [sometime years] keeps producing CMEs all the time, but only when it is facing Earth [once per solar 27-day rotation] are we prone to be hit by one.

    That’s incredible. The story you provided the link to and the facts. Thanks! So, is this like a leaky balloon knot or am I being too metaphorical in trying to understand this?

  7. A CME indicates a Forbush Decrease. So then the questions begin. What is the strength of the decrease, if any? What has been any change in diurnal temperature range (DRT)? What change in cloud moisture content?

    Has anyone any idea where on might try and get any or all of the above information over the intermet?

  8. Leif Svalgaard says October 24, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    That area for many months [sometime years] keeps producing CMEs all the time…

    What area are we talking about here Leif? You seem to be implying there are periods in the modern record when this has happened. The paper mentions large sunspot groups (but at high latitudes) in 1926, 37 and 47 but doesn’t say anything about them recurring. Have you other periods in mind?

    Couldn’t help but notice the relative positions of the gas giants from about Jan 1127 – Jan 1129. I’d better take a cold shower with n-body soap and dream of transits and whipping tops no more :-)

  9. The lack of media coverage is striking. Normally NOAA will issue advance alerts, and most TV stations and media websites around here will put out articles like “Watch for the Northern Lights!” and “Watch for monstrous electronic disruptions!”

    This one seems to have caught everyone by surprise. It wasn’t warned by NOAA, so it got none of the usual publicity. And yet this was the first aurora in MANY years … maybe the first since 1957??? that was dramatically visible in most of the US. That’s newsworthy by any standard.

    (I didn’t see it here; there was a faint reddish glow in the North for a while, but that could have been streetlights reflecting on low clouds.)

  10. AJB says:
    October 25, 2011 at 6:06 am
    What area are we talking about here Leif? You seem to be implying there are periods in the modern record when this has happened.
    Happens all the time. The Sun has a large-scale magnetic structure [ http://www.leif.org/research/Solar%20Sector%20Structure.pdf ] with magnetic polarities organized into broad ‘sectors’ separated by a boundary [which appears in interplanetary space as the so-called Heliospheric Current Sheet]. The boundaries on the Sun are such that active regions located at the right kind of boundary has a much larger chance of flaring and creating unstable filament resulting in CMEs. One discussion of this can be found here: http://www.leif.org/research/Hale-Flares.pdf

  11. Idiots in government do not like to highlight things that they cannot control…like a precursor to a Carrington event.

    They do not even want to draw attention to them.
    Just how high were the currents induced up north over various man-made conductive infrastructure?

    Was there any minor damage or brownouts reported?

    If not, what threshold would need to be reached in terms of current induced and scale of CME to cause such damage?

  12. Leif,

    Thank you very much.

    Is there also an early warning real time monitoring system that an owner of a distributed generation system might monitor or use to trigger a threshold alarm to preemptively disconnect from the grid and run on backup power for a time till the event passes?

    Thanks again for any insights you can share.

  13. Take a look at this from the Solar reference pages:

    The third chart is usually a fairly regular wave with minor perturbations. Wow.

  14. Leif Svalgaard says October 25, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Many thanks Leif. Lots of concepts to get the head around in that lot, exceptionally interesting. Last Slide, “The Issue”: What rules out the sector structure being due of external attenuation that results in longitudinal organization of the field? My copper bucket immediately suggests such forces would only need to be extremely small to produce that kind of ‘resonant’ effect, but maybe there’s a hole in it.

  15. AJB says:
    October 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm
    What rules out the sector structure being due of external attenuation that results in longitudinal organization of the field?
    What rules it in?

    Reference 6 in the above has some interesting timeline perspectives. Found a copy here:

    http://hesperia.gsfc.nasa.gov/sspvse/posters/DF_Smart/poster.pdf

    Both Don [Smart] and Peggy [Shea] are good friends of mine and their stuff is always interesting. BTW, Ed Cliver and myself note that very large [technologically dangerous] events may be more frequent with a less active sun: http://www.leif.org/research/Cycle%2024%20Smallest%20100%20years.pdf
    paragraph [10]: “Average space weather might be ‘‘milder’’ with decreased solar activity, but the extreme events that dominate technological effects are not expected to disappear. In fact, they may become more common. Two of the eight strongest storms in the last 150 years occurred during solar cycle 14 (Rmax = 64) [Cliver and Svalgaard, 2004], while three of the five largest 30 MeV solar energetic proton events since 1859 [McCracken et al., 2001] occurred during cycle 13 (Rmax = 88).”

  16. AJB says:
    October 25, 2011 at 11:27 pm
    What rules it in?
    Timing (e.g. the late Timo Nimora’s observations) and associated “cyclomania”. Possibly a wider approach than “cyclopsmania” but no closer to a mechanism of course :-)

    What timing explains a 27-day organization?

  17. polistra says on October 25, 2011 at 6:46 am

    The lack of media coverage is striking. Normally NOAA will issue advance alerts, and most TV stations and media websites around here will put out articles like “Watch for the Northern Lights!” and “Watch for monstrous electronic disruptions!”

    Perhaps Chicken Little has cried ‘The Sky is Falling’ too many times; the ppl no longer take any ‘warnings’ with any seriousness, plus, it isn’t a ‘draw’ for ratings and still competes with other events (editors must make decisions regarding content and allocation of staff resources to cover same).

    The observed effect from Texas last night was a ‘dead’ (weak) 80 Meter band (weakened Ionospheric propagation) …

    .

  18. Leif Svalgaard says October 26, 2011 at 5:19 am

    What timing explains a 27-day organization?

    Unless in my ignorance I’ve thus far misconstrued the seeds you’ve thrown out (in which case please explain) I’d venture that it’s derived from the rotation of the Sun itself as at the radiative interior, being the dominant frequency if we’re contemplating some form of resonance effect.

    One might equally ask why it varies at all or why we see uneven leading and trailing edges on the 27-day peak and harmonics in the power spectrum on your Sector Structure Slide 12. At first blush the spread around the main peak looks oddly like the 0.75/1.15 Jovian year ratio that Timo Nimora hypothesized. But I’m still trying to get my head around the concepts and what you’ve said in Echer and Svalgaard 2004 (plus references). There’s a truck load of meat in there to throw at imaginary tigers in the grass.

    Or after a few beers one could ponder what caused these oddly timed inflections in not enough data:

    … and too much information:

    … only to idly muse on what might happen next, now that the red booster has crowed at ‘sundown’ instead of ‘sunrise’. What will those earth based interference patterns on IMF polarity rotation plots look like from here on I wonder? We can only wait and see I guess, mindful that from real science “very large [technologically dangerous] events may be more frequent” as you carefully phrase it.

    Hope that book is coming soon BTW, all this digging is getting time consuming :-)

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