SDO observes mid-level solar flare

May 22, 2013
These images of a solar flare were captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on May 22, 2013. This image shows light in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength that shows material heated to intense temperatures during a flare and that is typically colorized in teal. Credit: NASA/SDO/GSFC

UPDATE 16:30 p.m. EDT: The M7-class flare was also associated with a coronal mass ejection or CME, another solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of particles into space. While this CME was not Earth-directed, it has combined with an earlier CME, and the flank of the combined cloud may pass Earth. Particles from the CME cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.

Experimental NASA research models, based on observations from NASA's and ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory show that the first CME began at 5:12 a.m. EDT, leaving the sun at about 400 miles per second. The second CME began at 9:24 a.m. EDT, leaving the sun at speeds of around 745 miles per second.

Earth-directed CMEs can cause a space called a geomagnetic storm, which occurs when they funnel energy into Earth's magnetic envelope, the magnetosphere, for an extended period of time. In the past, caused by CMEs of this strength have usually been mild.

The NASA models also show that the combined CMEs will pass by the STEREO-A spacecraft and its mission operators have been notified. If warranted, operators can put spacecraft into safe mode to protect the instruments from the solar material.

NASA and NOAA – as well as the Weather Agency (AFWA) and others—keep a constant watch on the sun to monitor for space weather effects such as geomagnetic storms. With advance notification many satellites, spacecraft and technologies can be protected from the worst effects



The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare on the morning of May 22, 2013. The flare peaked at 9:38 a.m. EDT and was classified as an M7. M- are the weakest flares that can still cause some space weather effects near Earth. In the past, they have caused brief at the poles.

are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground, however—when intense enough—they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel. This disrupts the radio signals for as long as the flare is ongoing, anywhere from minutes to hours.

NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured this image of a solar flare on the right side of the sun on May 22, 2013. This image shows light in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength that shows material heated to intense temperatures during a flare and that is typically colorized in teal. Credit: NASA/SDO

Increased numbers of flares are quite common at the moment, since the sun's normal 11-year activity cycle is ramping up toward solar maximum, which is expected in late 2013. Humans have tracked this solar cycle continuously since it was discovered in 1843, and it is normal for there to be many flares a day during the sun's peak activity.

NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (http://swpc.noaa.gov) is the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings. Updates will be provided as they are available on the flare and whether there was an associated or CME, another solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and affect electronic systems in satellites and on Earth.

Explore further: Obama salutes 45th anniversary of US astronauts' Moon landing

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA's STEREO detects a CME from the sun

May 17, 2013

On 5:24 a.m. EDT on May 17, 2013, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME, a solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles into space that can reach Earth ...

Spring fling: Sun emits a mid-level flare

Apr 11, 2013

UPDATE: The M6.5 flare on the morning of April 11, 2013, was also associated with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME), another solar phenomenon that can send billions of tons of solar particles ...

First X-class solar flare of 2013

May 13, 2013

(Phys.org) —On May 12, 2013, the sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 10 p.m. EDT. This flare is classified as an X1.7, making it the first X-class flare of 2013. The flare was also associated ...

Activity continues on the Sun

May 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —Solar activity continued on May 14, 2013, as the sun emitted a fourth X-class flare from its upper left limb, peaking at 9:48 p.m. EDT.

NASA sees sun emit mid-level flare

May 03, 2013

(Phys.org) —The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 1:32 pm EDT on May 3, 2013. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth's atmosphere ...

Three X-class flares in 24 hours

May 14, 2013

The sun emitted a third significant solar flare in under 24 hours, peaking at 9:11 p.m. EDT on May 13, 2013. This flare is classified as an X3.2 flare. This is the strongest X-class flare of 2013 so far, ...

Recommended for you

New launch date set for ISS delivery vessel

13 hours ago

A robot ship will be launched from Kourou, French Guiana, after a five-day delay on July 29 to deliver provisions to the International Space Station, space transport firm Arianespace said Tuesday.

The heart of an astronaut, five years on

14 hours ago

The heart of an astronaut is a much-studied thing. Scientists have analyzed its blood flow, rhythms, atrophy and, through journal studies, even matters of the heart. But for the first time, researchers are ...

Image: Kaleidoscopic view of Mars

20 hours ago

Astrophotographer Leo Aerts from Belgium took advantage of the recent opposition of Mars and captured the Red Planet both "coming and going" in this montage of images taken from October 2013 to June of 2014. ...

User comments : 0