The sun belches out a 3rd X-class solar flare in as many days

Earlier this week, on Sept 4th, active sunspot AR2673 hurled a CME toward Earth. Now a second monster sized flare has been released from the same region.

On Sept. 6th at 1202 UT, sunspot AR2673 unleashed a major X9.3-class solar flare–the strongest solar flare in more than a decade. Now, at about 1430 UT today, the same sunspot group has made a third X-class flare according to the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC). It is weaker that the one on September 6th.

Source:  h/t to Jimmy Haigh

The sunspot group AR2673 (in lower right) is rotating away from Earth, as seen in this current SDO image, so the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from it (if any) won’t be hitting Earth.


66 thoughts on “The sun belches out a 3rd X-class solar flare in as many days

  1. Solar activity went a bit up during August. Sunspot cycle 24 number for August 2017 in the old money (Wolf SSN) rose slightly from 11 to 19 points while the new Svalgaard’s reconstructed number is at 33.1
    Composite graph is here
    SC24 is nearing what might be the start of a prolong minimum (possible late start of SC25 too) but a ‘dead cat bounce’ from these levels could not be excluded.

    • I have a conjecture that long periods (2 cycles or longer) of prolonged minimum are immediately preceded by a ‘ (prime) event at the tail of the preceeding SC. SC 4 had one prior to the Dalton minimum. Will SC24 have one?

      From Wikipedia (I know, I know… Wikipedia is on shaky ground with its politicized editing):

      “There are some recent speculations that cycle 4, the longest solar cycle since 1755, was actually two cycles, based on the appearance of new sunspots at high solar latitudes in 1793-1796 …”

      Now the current sets of sunspots (like AR2673) are at more equatorial locations, so we’ll have to see though if higher latitude sunspots appear before the 2019-2020 SC24 /SC25 crossover. But still, if prime events do occur before Dalton- or Maunder-type minimums, this is the prediction.

      I have no doubt the good Dr S will correct the errors of my ways.

      • Hi there Joel
        There are number of papers (Usoskin 2013, McCracken & Lockwood 2015, etc) claiming SC4 was a double cycle but that is strongly disputed by Dr. S.
        When the sunspot formula (I devised some 14 years ago ‘simulating’ progression of the sunspot cycles) is plotted with a logarithmic scale it clearly shows what supposedly would be cycle 4a.
        My very modest contribution to the debate (August 2013) is shown here

        As you can see the note says that next phase change is expected for SC24-25
        therefore I agree with your prediction.

      • I believe the evidence for an extra cycle in the 1790’s is not strong, but hey if an extra short cycle is produced next, I am prepared to change my opinion. That would really shake up solar physicists.

      • Javier

        from my own analysis of maxima back in 2012 I predicted [to myself] a dead end stop in 2014,
        I was right.
        If everything goes normal, i.e. following Gleissberg, there will be no double min. now but perhaps a double max. might happen around 2040

        I wonder if I will still be around that time..

    • WP is eating my Reply post here to Vuk, and I don’t know why. It doesn’t have any banned words AFAIK.

  2. The sun has a sense of humor.

    (I know … not scientific, the name for this Pareidolia. And seeing unusual patterns in data when their aren’t any is called apophenia. See see lots of apophenia in climate pseudoscience lately.)

  3. It will be interested to see if we have any isolated power grid failures on the planet when the CME strikes late tonight or early tomorrow morning (of the 8th) when it strikes earth from the 9.3 X class flare.

      • Must be climate change making it stronger than it otherwise would be. (apophenia at work, just like Irma and Harvey).

      • The benchmark CME episode is 1859 and the Carrington event. I would like to see them compared. Only G3 mag storms are predicted, but we are near the equinox so auroras should be bright and widespread.

    • That X9.3 CME isn’t going to strike the earth directly. Some of the outer portions of it may interact with the earth’s magnetic field as it crosses the vicinity of earth’s orbit.

      • Also, the strength of the flare and its resulting ejection are not necessarily in lock-step. Large CMEs also result from collapsed filaments whose Hyder flares are not so dramatic in the X-ray spectrum.

  4. Seems like a good time to see if any weather phenomena (barring the hurricanes) might result from these flares.

    • was wondering if troposphere changes due to the ejection would affect the hurricane. or if its a too little too late or possibly an inverse relationship

  5. I am thinking of a relationship between extra solar flare and development of hurricanes…
    …the energy has to go somewhere?

    anyone have a comment on that?

    • The energy released is in the forms of magnetic plasma and X-rays. How would that heat the atmosphere?

      The direct consequences of solar flares with earth-directed CMEs are radio blackouts and later, geomagnetic storms.

    • The relationship you are seeking is the SSTs in the tropical Atlantic and Gulf of Mex, vs the pressures over the US, vs the dust extinction over NW Africa.

    • Yes, sun is the cause of hurricanes and cyclones but via simple process of the oceans heating.
      Strongest events due to solar magnetic activity are in the polar regions while hurricanes originate in the equatorial belt. Any connection as a trigger for a hurricane is very unlikely, and once a hurricane is under way it is extremely unlikely.

    • A one-off set of solar flares/CMEs would have difficult time producing observable changes in tropical cyclone strength or behavior.

      That is not to say it doesn’t happen or can’t happen. It just is not likely to be an observable cause-effect relationship. Remember spurious non-causal related correlations occur through nature. And if we cannot reproducibly observe an effect, does it really exist? Or is it just noise?

      That is a physical philosophical question that Einstein and many other physicists have pondered through the ages. For example, I can claim invisible space aliens are controlling our weather/climate, but since they are invisible, we can’t observe them. So philosophically, what is the point to making such a silly statement?

      Go with the things we know we can observe about TCs for the first and second order explanations of their strength and behavior.

      – Hurricanes only energy source is warm tropical water typically above T = 28degC (301 K) for strong growth (30-32 C SS temps can drive very vigorous growth), while 26 C is a minimum for sustainment and gradual diminishment. The top 100 meter warm water forms from months of clear sky sunlit-fed deep warming.

      All other things equal, hurricanes/tropical cyclones actually tend to strengthen at night due to increase in temperature delta between the SST (water with high heat capacity doesn’t undergo a significant diurnal drop) and the Tropopause (which does cool and lower floor of the stratosphere at night). This is because of the convective transport connection between the sea surface advection layer and the troposphere is the power stroke of the Carnot cycle heat engine.

      The spreading of the outflow cloud tops in the tropopause at T ~ 200 K, just underneath or into the edge of the stratosphere is the radiative transfer surface to 4K of space. And the efficiency of the Carnot cycle is completely and directly dependent on the delta T between these two regions.

      Their environments for favorable development are underneath and along the periphery of broad area high pressures (like the persistent Bermuda High). In the Northern hemisphere, with high pressure clockwise rotation, tropical cyclones/hurricanes move westward, along the trades winds path. Same for the Southern hemisphere. High pressure to the south of Typhoons also drives them generally westward, as one would expect from the prevailing tradewinds north and south of the equator where the warmest water exist.

      Lack of strong upper atmosphere cross winds further allows the rotating, convective heat towers to remain intact between the sea surface advection zone and well into the tropopause. This is the unfavorable shearing phenomenon that tropical weather experts discuss, as it prevents/inhibits the stable surface to upper tropopause teleconnection for the convective heat towers that form concentric rings around the central low pressure. In other words, lopping off the heat pipes (convective towers) chokes off the thermodynamic flow of energy to drive the TC’s engine.

      Now from that, for a CME or solar flare to have an observable effect on a Tropical Cyclone, you would need a mechanism to affect one of those parameters, like height or thickness of the tropopause or maybe the positioning of the subtropical jet stream. And I have never seen any evidence presented that that happens.

      So like invoking invisible space aliens as controlling our weather, a single set of solar flares affecting a hurricane has no scientific validation. That’s is not to say that one day some bright person might find a reproducible method of demonstrating such effect.

      • Clarification:
        “And the efficiency of the Carnot cycle is completely and directly dependent on the delta-T between these two regions.”

        The regions to which I refer are the sea surface boundary layer/advection zone (controlled by SST) and the tropopause/stratosphere boundary layer temperatures (typically controlled by the thickness of the troposphere and is function of latitude). Not the delta-T between tropopause and outer space.

      • thank you, I had wondered if cme’s would affect the jetstream.
        one issue is not being well versed enough to ask questions correctly.
        perhaps my org question should have been can cme’s, if timed right, affect the jetstreams enough to mitigate tropical depressions and reduce their ability to gain energy and turn stronger.
        and it seems, from your answer, they cannot.
        just wondering out loud, thanks for your time.

      • joel
        good comment there
        I would say that a sudden influx of high energy radiation could have the same effect as ‘night time’; iwill come to you later: it is night time here now {going to sleep]

  6. pop
    forms of magnetic plasma and X-rays

    that sounds to me like a lot of energy…..

    Anyway this talk of Irma being the strongest hurricane evah [due to man made warmer sea water\is making me mad. How do they know what happened 100 years ago?

    • Those energy expenditures are extreme, but they only last for a relative instant in time. They are just noise in the long term.

  7. Vuk

    your formula must take into account all observed solar phases i.e.
    Schwabe, Hale, Gleissberg, De Vries, Eddy & De Bray

    I am thinking no double min. now but double max. soon

    • Kelvin, that will take about 3/4 of a solar rotation, but the region must remain active and will not have the same number if it survives to reappear. something I have observed, is that in this period of low solar activity, the same regions have been active for several rotations. Perhaps Dr. S. can provide some historical perspective from previous cycles as I am a relative newcomer to the solar studies scene.

  8. joel
    “A one-off set of solar flares/CMEs would have difficult time producing observable changes in tropical cyclone strength or behavior’.

    Prolonged lower polar solar magnetic field strengths does in fact lead to more of the most energetic particles being able to escape from the sun hitting the atmosphere.
    On entering these particles react to form ozone, peroxides and nitrogenous oxides. [there never was a ozone hole; above the oceans OH radicals are available to form peroxides rather than ozone].
    This process protects us from the most damaging radiation coming from the sun.
    Hence, don’t go to Mars without first creating an atmosphere…

    In its turn, looking at the spectra, increased O3, HxOx and NxOx TOA decreases the amount of radiation of somewhat higher wavelength coming into earth.
    [energy versus wavelength follows a chi square distribution]

    Hence, a sudden increase in solar flares could therefore have a similar effect as what night time has, i.e. a cooling effect, fuelling the cyclone, as you posed

    but hey,
    that is just my opinion.

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