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October 28, 2003 - (date of web publication)
updated October 29, 2003

Update on the Solar Storm - Tuesday/Wednesday Solar Punch


solar eruption from Oct. 28, 2003  

The third most-powerful solar flare ever observed in X-ray wavelengths erupted from Sunspot 486 early October 28, 2003, at approximately 6 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. A coronal mass ejection (CME) directed almost straight at Earth preceded the flare, sending electrically charged gas toward our planet, say NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) scientists. To follow up, the same spot released a large X11 flare Wednesday afternoon and it too is associated with a CME.

To the left, a powerful X11 flare that erupted Wednesday afternoon at 3:48 pm ET, seen with the EIT instrument on SOHO. To the right, Tuesday's record-setting X17.2 flare; both are from Sunspot 486 and Earth-directed, meaning spectacular aurora in areas not usually lucky enough to see them. The Wednesday flare links to a print-resolution version; the Tuesday flare links to a movie of the explosion. Credit: NASA / ESA

The Polar data, shown in green, are projected on the map of the globe.

Credit: NASA/University of Iowa

The coronal mass ejection swept past Earth today triggered an intense geomagnetic storm. The northern lights were visible as far south as Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma.

The very active aurora was also visible to NASA satellites that study the impacts of space weather. This image of the aurora over the southern hemisphere was captured by the Polar spacecraft about 3 p.m. EST. The Polar data, shown in green, are projected on the map of the globe. (The aurora over the northern hemisphere were not visible to the spacecraft when these data were collected.)

Additional images should be uplinked during the NASA-TV feed on Thursday.

This image is generated from data collected by the University of Iowa's Visible Imaging Investigations (VII) Visible Imaging System (VIS) on board NASA's Polar spacecraft. It was designed and built by the Particles and Imaging research group from The University of Iowa. The Principal Investigator is Dr. Louis A. Frank and the Project Scientist and Manager is Dr. John B. Sigwarth.

X 17.2 Flare Observed

EIT close-up of flare

EIT Close-up of Flare
MPEG movie


CME and "snowstorm" in C3

CME and "snowstorm" in C3

MPEG Movie


EIT image of active region

EIT image of region 10486 during X5.4 flare.

MPEG Movie


Active region 10486, already under close scrutiny by several instruments on SOHO and other satellites, as well as numerous ground observatories, played up a spectacular show in the morning on Tuesday 28 October 2003. An X 17.2 flare, the second largest flare observed by SOHO, was setting off a strong high energy proton event and a fast-moving Coronal Mass Ejection.

SOHO's observation of the flare

High resolution version (5.13 MB)

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