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Weak CME Arrives and Sparks Aurora
January 10, 2014

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UPDATE: On Jan. 9, 2014, at 2:32 p.m. EST, a coronal mass ejection, or CME, that left the sun on Jan. 7, reached near-Earth space.  Coronal mass ejections are giant clouds of solar particles and those particles can initiate a process that leads to aurora near the poles. 

First the solar particles and magnetic fields in the CME trigger the release of particles already trapped near Earth, which in turn trigger reactions in the upper atmosphere in which oxygen and nitrogen molecules release photons of light. The result: the Northern and Southern lights.

The Jan. 7 CME didn't seem to have a strong affect on the appearance of aurora in this case, however, photographers did catch blue-green shimmers visible in Norway shortly after the CME arrived.

 


UPDATE: CME Accompanies X-class Flare - Jan. 8, 2013

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The Jan. 7, 2014, X-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 that can reach Earth one to three days later. These particles cannot travel through the atmosphere to harm humans on Earth, but they can affect electronic systems in satellites and on the ground.

The European Space Agency and NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured an image of the giant particle cloud as it burst away from the sun.

To see how this event may impact Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

Updates will be provided as needed.

 


Sun Unleashes First X-class Flare of 2014 - January 7, 2014

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The sun emitted a significant solar flare peaking at 1:32 p.m. EST on Jan.7, 2014. This is the first significant flare of 2014, and follows on the heels of mid-level flare earlier in the day. Each flare was centered over a different area of a large sunspot group currently situated at the center of the sun, about half way through its 14-day journey across the front of the disk along with the rotation of the sun.   

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Solar flares 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.

To see how this event may impact Earth, please visit NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center at http://spaceweather.gov, the U.S. government's official source for space weather forecasts, alerts, watches and warnings.

This flare is classified as an X1.2-class flare. X-class denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength. An X2 is twice as intense as an X1, an X3 is three times as intense, etc.

Updates will be provided as needed.

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Related Links

  › Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Space Weather
  › View Other Past Solar Activity

Karen C. Fox
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

Youtube Override: 
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This movie shows imagery from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory as the sun emitted an X-class flare on Jan. 7, 2014. The movie shows light in the 1600 Angstrom wavelength showing both sunspots visible on the sun's surface and the flare in the solar atmosphere. NOTE: This video loops 4 times.
Image Credit: 
NASA/SDO/Goddard
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This pictures combines two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured on Jan. 7, 2013.  Together, the images show the location of a giant sunspot group on the sun, and the position of an X-class flare that erupted at 1:32 p.m. EST.
This pictures combines two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured on Jan. 7, 2013. Together, the images show the location of a giant sunspot group on the sun, and the position of an X-class flare that erupted at 1:32 p.m. EST.
Image Credit: 
NASA/SDO
Image Token: 
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A giant cloud of solar particles, called a coronal mass ejection, explodes off the sun on Jan. 7, 2014.
A giant cloud of solar particles, called a coronal mass ejection, explodes off the sun on Jan. 7, 2014, as seen in the light halo to the lower right in this image captured by ESA/NASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. The sun is obscured to better see the tenuous atmosphere around it.
Image Credit: 
ESA/NASA/SOHO
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The aurora shimmered in the night sky over Tromsø, Norway, on Jan. 9, 2014.
The aurora shimmered in the night sky over Tromsø, Norway, on Jan. 9, 2014, after a coronal mass ejection arrived in near-Earth space, following a two-day journey from the sun.
Image Credit: 
Courtesy of Harald Albrigtsen
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This labeled image shows the location of giant sunspot AR1944 and to its right, small sunspot AR1943, from which the flare emanated
This labeled image taken by SDO's Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager shows the location of two active regions on the sun, labeled AR1944 and AR1943, which straddle a giant sunspot complex. A Jan. 17, 2014, X1.2-class flare emanated from an area closer to AR1943.
Image Credit: 
NASA/SDO
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Page Last Updated: January 29th, 2014
Page Editor: Holly Zell