March 10, 2011
A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field on March 10th
around 0630 UT. Solar wind conditions, post-impact, are favorable for
geomagnetic activity. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for
X-FLARE: March 9th ended with a powerful solar flare.
Earth-orbiting satellites detected an X1.5-class explosion from behemoth
sunspot 1166 around 2323 UT. A movie from NASA's Solar Dynamics
Observatory shows a bright flash of UV radiation plus some material
being hurled away from the blast site:
A first look at coronagraph images from NASA's STEREO-B
spacecraft suggests that the explosion did propel a coronal mass
ejection (CME) toward Earth. This conclusion is preliminary, however, so
check back later for updates.
After four years without any X-flares, the sun has produced two of
the powerful blasts in less than one month: Feb. 15th and March 9th.
This continues the recent trend of increasing solar activity, and shows
that Solar Cycle 24 is heating up. NOAA forecasters estimate a 5% chance
of more X-flares during the next 24 hours.