NLN Aurora Briefs – March 12, 2015

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Heavy flare activity continued today from Active Region 2297. There were 18 flares, including 3 M-class flares and a large X-class flare on March 11, 2015.

X2.2 Flare in blue
X-Class Flare Erupts from AR2297 on 3/11/2015, image in AIA 335 from SDO

Mid-afternoon (UTC) the region launched the first X-class flare of the year. The flare registered as X2.20, and was clearly impulsive with a growth rate of over 60 and decay rate of almost 10. You can see the data and details of the flare on the NLN Solar Flare Browser for flare ID 15021115

There is some debate about how much impact this flare will have on Earth’s magnetosphere. Generally, X-class flares are big enough to generate CMEs, and this region is clearly in the Earth “strike-zone”. Even a small flare should produce aurora on Earth, especially around the equinox. On the other hand, this flare was highly impulsive, and initial imagery appears to show the ejection as a narrow, fast moving plasma cloud pointed mostly towards the East. We’re aurora optimists so, we’ll err on the side of excitement and assume we’ll get a show, but this is in no way a sure fire aurora event. Still have to wait on SOHO imagery for a clean model run.

It may not matter at all: There have been so many M-class flares, some long duration, that it’s likely we will have geomagnetic activity as a result of this AR even if it doesn’t come from the X-Class flare. As of now, there are only 6 hours projected to have G1 storming by NOAA:

SWPC 3-day geomagnetic Activity
SWPC 3-day geomagnetic Activity Forecast shows potential storming the first 6 hours of 3/13

Today’s featured tweet is from Ham Radio Enthusiast SAINT LAN (@KC7RUN), who working with Dr. Tamitha Skov (@TamithaSkov) managed to record flare on a couple Ham Radio Bands. Very cool. His tweet directs to Dr. Skov’s website