NLN Aurora Briefs – March 3, 2015

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Solar flare in 304 wavelength
M3.44 Flare from AR2290 prominence caught on AIA 304

The above prominence was related to the third of today’s four M-class solar flares originating from Active Region 2290. This region became very active today producing 17 different flares. Initial analysis of the data show that at least a couple of these flares produced CMEs. However, due to the location of the region on the western limb, any Earth directed component of any of the CMEs is unlikely. We’ll just have to enjoy the views that come in off the SDO satellites.

As predicted, geomagnetic storming increased again in the first half of March 2nd. Storming of KP=5 (G1) was measured for several hours. For a brief period the wing-KP model was estimating KP to be 6.33. It is likely 6.33 was an overestimate – more on that in a future blog post – but it was enough to please lots of lucky Aurora viewers across northern North America.

Did you know you can see the growth and decay profile of solar flares on NLN? Here’s the link to today’s M3.77 flare in the above picture. You can navigate to the next and previous M-class flares from there. When was the last time we saw an M-class flare(hint: it’s been longer than normal fro this part of the solar cycle)?

Today’s featured tweet: another look at the M3.77 flare in LASCO C2 via Helioviewer and by @epicCosmos

Happy Hunting

NLN Aurora Briefs – March 2, 2015

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The high speed wind stream from the coronal hole is living up to expectations once again. G1 storming conditions were observed for a period of about 8 hours during the previous 24 hour period. Several great photos of northern lights from high latitudes were getting lots of retweets on Twitter.

The storming at the beginning of the period was mostly due to the passing of the solar sector boundary and Earth’s move into the negative polarity stream from the southern CH HSS. Wind speed increased to around 550 km/s, density was in the 8-12 p/cm3 range, and Bt reached 14. All together, those helped the KP reach 5.33.

In the second half of yesterday UTC, KP values decreased as the density decreased. Now, right at the end of the UTC period, wind speed is increasing again. NOAA has predicted wind speeds could reach as high as 700km/s over the next 24 hours. Currently wind speed is around 500. If wind speed increases that much we could possibly even see G2 storming, so stay tuned.

Here’s a current snapshot of the solar wind data, it’s looking good for the potential of high KP in the near future. Screenshot from spaceweatherlive.com

Solar data shows good potential for northern lights over the next several hours as wind speed increase.
Solar data shows good potential for northern lights over the next several hours as wind speed increase.

Happy Hunting!

NLN Aurora Briefs – February 28, 2015

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SWPC (NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center) has extended the G1 Geomagnetic storm watch to 72 hours. It now runs from 7:00pm Friday night EST through 7:00pm EST Monday night. This means there is a chance for KP=5 on each of the next three days. Here’s the watches/warnings graphic from SWPC:

72 hour storm watch posted by SWPC
72 hour storm watch posted by SWPC

KP isn’t expected to pick up until late in the first day of the watch period. The best opportunities for aurora will be right at the beginning of the uptick in solar wind speed as the solar sector boundary passes earth, then again later after the high wind speedand density has been impacting the geomagnetosphere for an extended period of time.

In today’s featured tweet, we toot our own horn a little. This shows the current coronal hole on the last rotation (when it produced 4 days of enhanced geomagnetic activity) and on this rotation. Doesn’t look much different, does it?