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Sunspot gets a facelift

NOAA 2599 transited the solar disk from 3 till 15 October. It reached its largest size around 5 October, when its area was equivalent to nearly 3 times the total surface area of the Earth. During its transit, it significantly changed from outlook, becoming smaller and less complex. Solar observers watching the Sun only at the beginning and the end of the period might even have had a hard time to conclude this was the same sunspot.

So long, filament!

A filament eruption took place early on 1 October (see movie). This filament had a respectable length of about 40 degrees, i.e. more than 10% of the solar circumference or well over the average Earth-Moon distance. The feature was already visible during the previous solar rotation early September, when it transited the solar disk uneventfully (see this news item).

Return of the Behemoth

A huge trans-equatorial coronal hole (CH) is transiting the solar disk. According to the latest data from LMSAL/SPOCA (28 September), the total coronal hole area is the equivalent of about 880 times the total surface area of the Earth. It is by far the largest CH since the last solar cycle maximum, even dwarfing the large southern polar CH from late 2014 - early 2015 (see the 2014 space weather highlights).

Farside eruption

For the second consecutive week, no C-class flares were observed from Earth. In fact, not a single C-class flare has been recorded so far this September month, with the last C-class event dating back already from late on 31 August. Records will not be broken soon though, as the longest period without a C-class flare was set during the past solar cycle minimum from 3 April till 3 November 2008 (213 days!).

Collateral damage

Solar flare activity was not particularly impressive last week, with no C-class events at all. Fortunately, a B7.9 flare peaking at 03:23UT on 09 September in active region NOAA 2588, was associated with a lovely post-flare effect: the disappearance of almost an entire filament about 10 degrees to the southeast of this active region.

Resuscitating STEREO-B

On 1 October 2014, communications with the STEREO-B spacecraft were interrupted during a planned test in anticipation of its solar conjunction at the Sun's farside (see image underneath for positions relative to Earth). Despite intense recovery efforts in the subsequent months, contact could not be re-established and the spacecraft seemed to be lost. More background information can be found in the news items of 4 June 2014 and 29 July 2015.

Sun-grazing comet mystery

Comet tail seen by LASCO/C2

Did the EUV space telescope onboard PROBA2 see the sun-grazing comet as a tiny dot on the solar surface lightening up? This is the story of 5 mysterious pixels.

A spectacular flare

Last week, NOAA 2567 continued its growth in magnetic complexity and sunspot area. Early on 21 July, this active region produced an M1.2 flare which was the first "medium" event since the M6 flare on 18 April this year by NOAA 2529 (see the 19 April news item). NOAA 2567 would produce a total of 7 M-class flares, the strongest being an M7.6 event on 23 July which was the most powerful since the M7.9 flare by NOAA 2371 more than a year ago (see this 5 August 2015 news item).

Sunspot neighbours

Forecasters seemed to be heading for yet another boring spaceweather week, when -during the afternoon hours of 14 July- a new sunspot region gradually developed about 70.000 km east of NOAA 2565's main spot. In solar terms, that's like shaking hands with your neighbours! The new "sunspot family" was numbered NOAA 2567, and both groups reached a surface area of nearly twice the surface area of the Earth by the end of the period.

SC24 highlights page

Every year, the STCE publishes a news item with an overview of the most memorable solar and space weather highlights. These include spectacular solar flares, impressive filament eruptions, huge coronal holes, and much more. Each time, a movie is compiled with several clips of each event. As it also makes reference to the associated effects such as strong geomagnetic storms, aurora sightings, extremes in solar wind parameters, and number of strong flares, the news item provides at the same time a brief status of the ongoing solar cycle.

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