Friday, January 10, 2014

Where did the X Flare CME go??


A quick update this evening regarding the weaker than expected CME impact.

Solar wind speeds following the impact remain between 400 and 500 km/s. The Bz component of the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF) continues to point north, a condition that is known to suppress geomagnetic activity. Initially forecasters were calling for solar wind speeds near 700 km/s. While making the 149,000,000+ km journey from the sun to Earth, the plasma cloud lost a considerable amount of velocity. It is also very possible that while a bulk of the material was known to be directed away from our planet, the expected Earth directed component was not as significant as predicted. A very disappointing outcome.

Geomagnetic storming reaching the G2 or G3 level appears unlikely tonight. Unfortunately for sky watchers, widespread visual aurora tonight is also unlikely.

With that being said, sky watchers should remain alert regardless of the current conditions. If the Bz/IMF component of the solar wind decides to point south, this could add a needed boost to geomagnetic activity. I will continue to monitor conditions and post updates when necessary.

Attached is the latest solar wind data, along with the current Kp index.

...and from Spaceweather


CME IMPACT: As predicted, a CME hit Earth's magnetic field on Jan. 9th (20:00 UT). The impact was weaker than expected, however, and it failed to produce widespread geomagnetic storms. Nevertheless, some beautiful auroras appeared around the Arctic Circle. Harald Albrigtsen sends this picture from Tromsø, Norway:

It was dark in Norway when the CME arrived, so observers there witnessed a nice display. By the time night fell over North America, however, the lights had faded. US observers saw nothing remarkable.

More auroras are possible on Jan. 10th as Earth passes through the magnetic wake of the CME. NOAA forecasters estimate a 85% chance of polar geomagnetic storms before the day is over. Aurora alerts: text, voice.

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