Sunday, June 21, 2015

Minor Coronal Mass Ejection Hits Earth, More Coming

Coronal Mass Ejection on the Sun. Credit: NASA

A minor coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field on June 21 at approximately 16:00 UTC. The CME was associated with an R1-Minor flare event observed at 01:42 UTC from Sunspot Region 12371 located near center disk of the Sun. The weak impact did not cause an immediate geomagnetic storm. However, at least two more CMEs are en route. This means geomagnetic storms remain possible in the nights ahead despite the muted effect of today's strike.

Geomagnetic storms are likely when the CME reaches Earth, probably on June 23 or 24. Its impact will add to that of two lesser CMEs already en route.

Radio blackouts reaching the R1 levels were observed over the past 24 hours. The largest was on Jun 21, at 09:44 UTC.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that space weather for the next 24 hours is predicted to be strong.

CMEs are huge explosions of magnetic field and plasma from the Sun's corona. When CMEs impact the Earth’s magnetosphere, they are responsible for geomagnetic storms and enhanced aurora.

CMEs originate from highly twisted magnetic field structures, or “flux ropes”, on the Sun, often visualized by their associated “filaments” or “prominences”, which are relatively cool plasmas trapped in the flux ropes in the corona. When these flux ropes erupt from active regions on the Sun (regions associated with sunspots and very strong magnetic fields), they are often accompanied by large solar flares; eruptions from quiet regions of the Sun, such as the “polar crown” filament eruptions, sometimes do not have accompanying flares.

All weather on Earth, from the surface of the planet out into space, begins with the Sun. Space weather and terrestrial weather are influenced by the small changes the Sun undergoes during its solar cycle. 

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