Olduvaiblog: Musings on the coming collapse

Home » Posts tagged 'Solar flare'

Tag Archives: Solar flare

Northern lights to dance across much of Canada tonight – Canada – CBC News

Northern lights to dance across much of Canada tonight – Canada – CBC News.

A view of the Aurora Borealis is shown near Yellowknife, N.W.T., in March 2012.  Much of Canada and the northern fringes of the U.S. should see the northern lights Thursday night, thanks to a strong solar flare earlier this week. 
A view of the Aurora Borealis is shown near Yellowknife, N.W.T., in March 2012. Much of Canada and the northern fringes of the U.S. should see the northern lights Thursday night, thanks to a strong solar flare earlier this week. (Bill Braden/Canadian Press)

Northerners thawing out from a bitter freeze may get rewarded with shimmering northern lights the next couple of days.

The University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute predicts much of Canada and the northern fringes of the U.S. should be able to see the northern lights. Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Seattle and Des Moines might see the shimmering colours low on the horizon.

U.S. federal space weather forecaster Joe Kunches said the sun shot out a strong solar flare late Tuesday, which should arrive at Earth early Thursday. It should shake up Earth’s magnetic field and expand the Aurora Borealis south, possibly as far south as Colorado and central Illinois. He said the best viewing would probably be Thursday evening, weather permitting.

The solar storm is already causing airline flights to be diverted around the North Pole and South Pole and may disrupt GPS devices Thursday.

The northern lights are a result of charged particles from the sun interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. As particles from the solar wind enter the Earth’s upper atmosphere, they collide with the individual atoms of our atmosphere to produce the spectacular light show.

Activist Post: NASA Announces Incoming CME Likely to Cause a Geomagnetic Storm

Activist Post: NASA Announces Incoming CME Likely to Cause a Geomagnetic Storm.

Chris Carrington
Activist Post

NOAA is predicting a geomagnetic storm later today as the CME from the X1 flare hits the Earth’s magnetosphere. The speed of the solar wind will spike at around 1.6 million miles per hour. (700km/s)

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) has the following information for the 9th, 10th and 11th January:

January 9th 

50-90% chance of major-severe geomagnetic storm depending on where you live. The further north you are the higher the percentage of risk

January 10th 

50-85% chance of major-severe geomagnetic storm depending on where you live. The further north you are the higher the percentage of risk.

January 11th

1-50% chance of major-severe geomagnetic storm depending on where you live. The further north you are the higher the percentage of risk.

The risk from flares today stands at 80% for an M-class and 50% for an X-class. Any eruption is most likely to come from somewhere within AR1944, though it has grown so massive it’s hard to see where AR1943 ends and AR1944 begins.

Today’s sunspot number is 178.

A good explanation of how all these things fit together is provided by NASA:

Coronal mass ejections are more likely to have a significant effect on our activities than flares because they carry more material into a larger volume of interplanetary space, increasing the likelihood that they will interact with the Earth. While a flare alone produces high-energy particles near the Sun, some of which escape into interplanetary space, a CME drives a shock wave which can continuously produce energetic particles as it propagates through interplanetary space. When a CME reaches the Earth, its impact disturbs the Earth’s magnetosphere, setting off a geomagnetic storm. A CME typically takes 3 to 5 days to reach the Earth after it leaves the Sun. Observing the ejection of CMEs from the Sun provides an early warning of geomagnetic storms. Only recently, with SOHO, has it been possible to continuously observe the emission of CMEs from the Sun and determine if they are aimed at the Earth.

One serious problem that can occur during a geomagnetic storm is damage to Earth-orbiting satellites, especially those in high, geosynchronous orbits. Communications satellites are generally in these high orbits. Either the satellite becomes highly charged during the storm, and a component is damaged by the high current that discharges into the satellite, or a component is damaged by high-energy particles that penetrate the satellite. We are not able to predict when and where a satellite in a high orbit may be damaged during a geomagnetic storm.

Another major problem that has occurred during geomagnetic storms has been the temporary loss of electrical power over a large region. The best known case of this occurred in 1989 in Quebec. High currents in the magnetosphere induce high currents in power lines, blowing out electric transformers and power stations. This is most likely to happen at high latitudes, where the induced currents are greatest, and in regions having long power lines and where the ground is poorly conducting.

The damage to satellites and power grids can be very expensive and disruptive. Fortunately, this kind of damage is not frequent. Geomagnetic storms are more disruptive now than in the past because of our greater dependence on technical systems that can be affected by electric currents and energetic particles high in the Earth’s magnetosphere.

Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple, where this first appeared. Wake the flock up!

Sun’s pending magnetic flip has physicists on edge – Technology & Science – CBC News

Sun’s pending magnetic flip has physicists on edge – Technology & Science – CBC News.

soho-nov8-2013An image taken by NASA and ESA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory on Nov. 8 shows active areas near the sun’s equator as it approaches the peak of the current solar cycle. (ESA/NASA)

The Sun’s magnetic field will soon make a dramatic flip, which it does every 10 to 13 years, and scientists are keeping a close eye to see if that reverses the bizarre behaviour they’ve been seeing for the past decade.

Last week, the sun unleashed the biggest solar flare of the year, an X3.3 flare, which was followed with an only slightly less intense X1 flare from a Jupiter-sized sunspot.

X-class flares are the most powerful class of solar flares, and in late October the sun fired off four in the space of a week.

All indications suggest the sun is ramping up to the midpoint of its solar cycle — which is the peak moment at which it is expected to reverse its magnetic field.

‘We would feel happier if we saw the sun doing business as usual.’– Ken Tapping, National Research Council of Canada

The sun has been behaving particularly strangely since the last time its magnetic field flipped in 2003.

So solar physicists such as Ken Tapping at the National Research Council of Canada are watching carefully.

“As you can imagine, we’re concerned about what’s going to happen next,” said Tapping, who leads a team that monitors the sun’s magnetic activity using a radio telescope in Penticton, B.C.

“Obviously, we would feel happier if we saw the sun doing business as usual, rather than heading off into some territory where we basically are not sure we understand what’s going to happen.”

A ‘sphere’ of gas

The sun’s magnetic field is produced by the movement of hot gases as it rotates and as heat rises from the sun’s core to its surface.

Tapping says the magnetic field is what makes the sun appear like a solid sphere rather than a transparent ball of gas: “It changes the fuzzy blob into something that’s more like a block of rubber.”

sunspots-nov8-2013The sun unleashed an X1 solar flare from a Jupiter-sized sunspot on Nov. 8. (ESA/NASA)

The effects of this magnetic field extend far beyond the planets of the solar system to the edge of interstellar space.

The polarity of the sun’s magnetic field flips every 10 to 13 years, an average of 11 years, marking the peak and midpoint of each solar cycle. The most recent cylcle, Solar Cycle 24 started in 2008 and is now approaching its midpoint.

According to NASA, the next flip is expected by the end of the year.

Tapping says the event typically takes one to a few months, and can be observed via the strength of the magnetic field over the sun’s surface — something that the Penticton measurements help calculate.

The beginning of the flip is also marked by the appearance of sunspots at high solar latitudes that are “magnetically the other way round” compared to those at the sun’s equator, Tapping said.

Sunspots typically form close to the “poles” of the sun at the beginning of a solar cycle, and gradually move toward the equator over the course of the cycle. The cycles overlap so that sunspots from two cycles typically coexist for a period of time.

Temporary increase in solar flares

Tapping added that the flip will probably have little effect on us humans, other than temporarily increasing the chance of significant solar flares.

‘I think that will give us an indication of whether the sun will sit there smouldering or whether it’s going to come back to usual behaviour.’– Ken Tapping, National Research Council of Canada

Solar flares are eruptions of magnetic energy from the sun’s surface.

If they are directed toward Earth, they can interact with the Earth’s magnetic field, knocking out man-made satellites and power grids, affecting navigation equipment on airplanes, and interfering with other electronics and communications systems.

The potential damage to electronic infrastructure on and around Earth are one of the main reasons scientists keep such a close eye on the sun’s magnetic activity.

Around the solar cycle peak and magnetic flip of 2003, the midpoint of Solar Cycle 23, the sun blasted off 17 major eruptions over the space of three weeks, including a record-setting X28 flare.

The resulting geomagnetic storms generated blood-red auroras on Halloween and partially disabled half of NASA’s satellite fleet, permanently damaging some satellites.

The rise in powerful solar flares at the peak of a solar cycle are due to the increased complexity of the sun’s magnetic field as it prepares to flip.

Start of strange behaviour

While this year’s solar storms are far weaker than the ones in 2003, they are “a bigger surprise even as they do less damage,” NASA says, since they come at the peak of one of the weakest solar cycles in a century.

The 2003 magnetic flip marked the beginning of some unexpected behaviour. The relationship between two measurements of the sun’s magnetic activity that normally correspond — the magnetic field strength and sunspot counts — started to diverge.

The next solar cycle was supposed to start in 2008, but “things just sat,” Tapping said. “And then the next cycle was about two years late in starting.”

Since then, it has been a cycle of unusually low magnetic activity.

“When we see the flip and start to get an idea of how activity starts to build up for the next cycle,” Tapping said, “I think that will give us an indication of whether the sun will sit there smouldering or whether it’s going to come back to usual behaviour.”

He noted, however, that usual behaviour is relative term, since scientists have only been monitoring sunspots since the 1700s, and taking more comprehensive measurements of the 4.5-billion-year-old sun since the mid-20th century.

“In all probability,” Tapping added. “The sun has done this before.

 

%d bloggers like this: