Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Impulsive X1.8 Solar Flare from AR1598

An impulsive, short-lived X1.8 solar flare from sunspot area AR1598 on the left side of the sun reached peak intensity at 03:17 UTC early on October 23, 2012 (11:17 PM EDT on October 22) [Update: Later reports from NASA gave 03:22 UTC as time of peak brightness].  X-class flares are considered the highest in intensity.  This particular flare had a brief duration and was on the lower end of the X-class scale.

X1.8 Solar Flare on October 23, 2012 - NASA/SDO/Goddard

From the National Weather Service Space Weather Prediction Center report: "Impulsive flares aren’t generally associated with severe space weather, and additionally, this region is still several days away from directly facing Earth from center disk.  Nonetheless, the potential for continued activity remains..."

SolarHam.com produced a video of the X1.8 solar flare based on NASA imagery.

An earlier M5 flare on October 22 from the same active region peaked at 6:51 PM UTC (2:51 PM EDT).

M5 Flare on October 22, 2012 - NASA/SDO/GSFC

Graph depicting both the Oct. 23 X1.8 Flare and Oct. 22 M5 Flare - NOAA/SWPC

The M9 flare on October 20 also was emitted from active region AR 1598.  This area is being carefully monitored for future flare activity.

NASA reported on October 22 multiple slow coronal mass ejections (CMEs), but due to the active region's position on the sun, these were not headed towards Earth.  Early reports from non-NASA sites such as SolarHam.com suggest that the larger X1.8 flare will likely not produce a CME directed towards Earth.  Stay tuned for future official reports from NASA on the latest flare.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Solar Flare Over Weekend on Higher End of Moderate Scale

The sun produced a solar flare over the weekend on the higher end of the moderate scale.  On Saturday, October 20, 2012, the NASA Solar Dynamics Laboratory (SDO) reported a "significant" flare which reached maximum intensity of M9 at 2:14 EDT/18:14 UT.

M9 Solar Flare - October 20, 2012 - NASA/SDO

The Belgium Royal Observatory Solar Influences Data Analysis Center (SIDC) assessed Saturday's flare at M9.1 and also reported six lower intensity C-class flares. SIDC noted there was a CME associated with the flare, but it was not directed towards Earth.  However, according to SIDC, "M-level flares are possible within the next 48 hours, with a slight chance for an X flare and a proton storm".  SIDC noted the sunspot region associated with Saturday's flare is the newly labelled NOAA AR11598.

X-ray Graph Showing Intensity of Oct. 20 Flare (just under X-class) - NOAA

SolarHam.com presented an interesting video compiling imagery from NASA on the October 20 solar flare.  Commentary on this site also pointed out the cube shape that can be observed on the sun on middle right (not in the region of the flare).  I have highlighted the cube shape on a photograph originating from NASA/SDO (full photo shown at the top of this blog).

Visit SolarFlareWatch.com for the latest solar flare news, features and resource links, as well as fascinating historical references.