Sun Spots, CMEs, and Solar Storms!
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Oh my! Sol apparently didn't get the memo that it's past solar maximum, and time to be heading towards solar minimum. There are a couple massive sunspot groups (Active Regions) on the Sun, and one in particular has magnetic fields harboring enough energy to generate X-class solar flares.

The Sun

The photosphere from the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) (left, colorized), and the corona from the Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) (right, composite, extreme ultraviolet/soft X-rays) - Sept. 6, 2017. Images courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams / Bob Trembley

AR2674 hasn't changed much in size over the the last few days, but it is still a very active region with large coronal loops.

AR2674 - Sept. 6, 2017

AR2674 - Sept. 6, 2017. Images courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams / Bob Trembley

AR2673 was an innocuous little spot last week, then over the weekend ballooned out into an area larger than the Earth, with intense magnetic fields.

AR2673 - Sept. 6, 2017

AR2673 - Sept. 6, 2017. Images courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams / Bob Trembley

On September 4th, AR2673 spit out a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) towards Earth - due to hit Earth's magnetic field today (Sept. 6th), and causing G3-class geomagnetic storms on September 6th and 7th; effects can include: GPS problems, intermittent HF radio, spacecraft surface charging, power system voltage corrections, etc...

CME from the Sun

CME - Sept 5, 2017. Image credit: NASA/JPL - Caltech / SOHO

Aurora watchers may want to keep an eye on the Auroral Oval, as increased auroral activity is likely.

Auroral Oval

The Auroral Oval (LIVE Image). Image credit: NOAA/Ovation

SpaceWeather.com featured this beautiful image of AR2673 on their website on Sept. 6th.

AR 2673-74 Image credit: Philippe TOSI, Sept. 5, 2017

UPDATE: At 5:10 a.m. EDT, AR2673 blasted off an X2.2 solar flare - the most powerful flare seen since 2015; then at 8:02 a.m. EDT, a mere 3 hours later, and while I was writing this post, AR2673 followed-up with an even more powerful X9.3 flare! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) says that the last X9 flare occurred in 2006.


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