Thursday, May 10, 2012

Solar Update: May 10, 2012 Super Solar Flares With Extreme Ultraviolet Flashes. Solar Pole Shift.

Solar wind
speed: 627.0 km/sec
density: 0.0 protons/cm3
Updated: Today at 1735 UT

X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C4 
1340 UT May10 
24-hr: M5 
0418 UT May10 
Updated: Today at: 1700 UT

SOLAR ACTIVITY INTENSIFIES: Huge sunspot AR1476 is crackling with M-class solar flares and appears to be on the verge of producing something even stronger. The sunspot's 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field harbors energy for X-class flares, the most powerful kind. Earth is entering the line of fire as the sunspot rotates across the face of the sun.

This morning, May 10th around 0418 UT, sunspot 1476 unleashed an impulsive M5-class solar flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash:

Apparently, the almost-X class explosion did not hurl a significant CME toward Earth. NOAA forecasters estimate a 65% chance of more M-class flares and a 10% chance of X-flares during the next 24 hours

Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4 
Interplanetary Mag. Field

Btotal4.3 nT
Bz1.3 nT south 

Updated: Today at 1737 UT

Updated at: 2012 May 09 2200 UTC
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
65 %
65 %
10 %
10 %

WHAT DOES A SUNSPOT SOUND LIKE? On May 9th, amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft of New Mexico detected strong shortwave radio bursts coming from the sunspot. Click to hear the "solar static" that roared out of his loudspeaker:
Dynamic spectrum courtesy of Wes Greenman, Alachua Radio Observatory
"The strongest burst so far occured around 1631 UT on May 9th," reports Ashcraft. "I am observing at 28 MHz and 21.1 MHz. As I send this note I am hearing more bursting, indicating powerful magnetic dynamism within active region 1476."
Solar radio bursts are caused by plasma instabilities that ripple through the sun's atmosphere in the aftermath of powerful flares. With AR1476 poised for more eruptions, this 'radio activity' is likely to continue for days

The Sun’s Four Pole Magnetic Field, Solar Pole Shift And The New Little Ice Age…

The Sun, the light at the centre of our solar system is fast approaching the end of its 11 year solar cycle. With the height of solar activity reached, the solar maximum, is it now time for our Sun to slumber?
NASA, not short of an opinion on all things scientific expect the current solar cycle to end mid-2013, while Japanese researchers armed with their own observations dispute NASA’s predictions. Suggesting instead that May this year will see the Sun’s pole shift, temporarily creating a quad pole magnetic field until the pole reversal completes and the next solar cycle begins.
An international research team led by Saku Tsuneta, a professor at National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) has been performing the monthly solar observations since September 2008, making use of Hinode, the Japanese solar observing satellite. Saku and his team of researchers  have discovered that the sun’s pole shift will occur 12 months sooner than expected,  May 2012.

The end of the solar cycle is signaled by a flipping of the magnetic poles of the Sun, the Sun then enters the Solar Minimum with solar flare activity dropping to its lowest point. During the pole shift the Sun may exhibit unusual activity including the appearance of 4 magnetic poles, 2 North and 2 South. Like a two headed chicken this is most unusual.
Even more incredible is the claim that, according to their observations, the Sun is currently exhibiting similar solar activity to that observed during the Maunder Minimum, which occurred during the coldest years of the Little Ice Age in the 17th century.
Solar flare activity is far easier to observe, than other solar processes, from the Earth’s surface. Solar observations actually date back as far back as the 17th century,  enabled by the invention of the telescope. Giovanni Domenico Cassini and a team of observers in France collected many of the early observations, including those during the Maunder Minimum.
The Maunder Minimum occurred between 1645 and 1715 and is characterized as being a period with incredibly low levels of solar flare activity. During the 30 years in the middle of Maunder Minimum only 50 solar flares were observed, compared to the 40,000 to 50,000 that would be expected during a solar maximum.
There is still much to understand about the Sun and its solar flares, especially how they relate to the Earth and it’s weather. There is thought to be a connection between the Maunder Minimum and the Little Ice Age, lack of solar flare activity and the Earth’s cold periods.  During the coldest years of the Little Ice Age (LIA), which occurred from 1350 to 1850 the Themes in London froze solid along with New York’s Hudson river, Manhattan become only an ice skate away.  The great famine of 1315 marked a treacherous start  to the LIA.
Several causes have been proposed for the LIA, cyclical lows in solar activity, a large number of volcanic events and changes to the oceans currents are the leading possibilities. Interestingly it is also possible that all three theories are intertwined, causing the cold event to last much longer than it otherwise would have.
Little is understood about the process of solar pole shift, only since the launch of solar observing satellites such as Hinode, along with NASA’s SOHO and SDO, have we been able to closely observe the process in action. This is the first end of a solar cycle observed with so mans mechanical eye’s in the sky. It may well be time to rug up and enjoy the solar show.

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