Strong Radio Blackout from July 12 Coronal Mass Ejection

The active region 1520 which spit out an X class solar flare July 12, seen from the Solar Dynamic Observatory (Credits: NASA).

Although the solar active region 1515 has rotated out of view from Earth, there’s no chance of the solar storms letting up anytime soon. In its place, AR1520, which rotated into view on July 6, spit out an X class coronal mass ejection that produced a strong R3 category radio blackout and is expected to produce a geomagnetic storm on Earth on July 14.

As spaceweather.com put it “Because this sunspot is directly facing Earth, everything about the blast was geoeffective.” The flare registered as an X1.4, falling short of the strongest flare in 2012, a title currently held by a March storm that produce an X5.4 event.

Initial observations of the CME were hampered by limited observation of the event, according to the Space Weather Prediction Center. The CME has produced a minor S1 category solar radiation storm and is not expected to affect satellites or electronics. The region remains active however, and further flares and ejections can be expected. “It’s certainly not done. It’s only halfway across the face of the sun right now,” said Dean Pesnell, project scientist  for NASA’s Solar Dynamic Observatory. “We’ll be able to watch it from the Earth for at least another week.”

As Solar Cycle 24 heads towards its 2013 maximum, such storms are expected to be more common. AR1515 and AR1520 are considered moderate sized sunspots for this phase of the sun.

Watch below as the 127,00 km region – the size of 10 Earths –  turns into view:

 

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Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.

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