Science

Published on June 17th, 2012 | by James Ayre

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Powerful Solar Flare Producing Sunspot Facing The Earth

June 17th, 2012 by

 
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An active sunspot-filled region on the sun, AR 1504, rotated into our view on June 10, 2012. So far, the sunspot region fired off two M-class flares, and two coronal mass ejections (CMEs) on June 13th and 14th. The final flare lasted a long time for a CME, nearly 3 hours. It peaked around June 13, 2012 at 9:17 AM EDT. That CME traveled approximately 375 miles per second directly towards the Earth, but because of its relatively slow speed wasn’t expected to cause many problems.

 

The second flare was also a long-duration flare, it peaked on June 14, 2012 at 10:08 AM EDT. This CME was traveling much faster, nearly 800 miles per second, and was expected to impact the Earth, Mars, and the Spitzer spacecraft.

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Both CMEs were forecasted to hit the Earth on June 16th.

Solar flares are intense bursts of radiation coming from the release of the magnetic energy associated with sunspots. “Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events. They are seen as bright areas on the sun and they can last from minutes to hours. We typically see a solar flare by the photons (or light) it releases, at most every wavelength of the spectrum. The primary ways we monitor flares are in x-rays and optical light. Flares are also sites where particles (electrons, protons, and heavier particles) are accelerated.”

A Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) is an explosive eruption of magnetic fields containing matter. “The outer solar atmosphere, the corona, is structured by strong magnetic fields. Where these fields are closed, often above sunspot groups, the confined solar atmosphere can suddenly and violently release bubbles of gas and magnetic fields called coronal mass ejections. A large CME can contain a billion tons of matter that can be accelerated to several million miles per hour in a spectacular explosion. Solar material streams out through the interplanetary medium, impacting any planet or spacecraft in its path. CMEs are sometimes associated with flares but can occur independently.”

Source: NASA

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • jason

    We know how the solar system developed and how the planets and the moons formed. They were not belched out by our sun. They formed concurrently with the sun from the same spinning disc of matter which coalesced over time. Some objects may have been gravitationally captured even though the formed outside our solar system.

    We know quite a lot about the universe and even more about our own solar system.

  • frank discsce

    Backup plans for solar suns.

  • Ajfarul

    Scary stuff.

  • http://ufolou.com Lou Baldin

    The sun spits out everything in the solar system and gave birth to the planets and moons. We are not aware of but a fraction of what is in the solar system.

    • AC

      This is your brain on drugs, kids.

    • Steve Kauffman

      Amazing stuff. I understand that the Sun fuses 700 million tons of hydrogen into helium each second, and has been and will continue doing so for many billions of years. Additionally, the Sun is so large and the solar system so vast that is nearly impossible to represent it on any scale that is comprehensible to man. I’ve attached a link to the so-called “Thousand Yard Model” of the solar system to give a rough idea of its size. http://www.noao.edu/education/peppercorn/pcmain.html

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