SOLAR WATCH: Emerging Sunspot 2297 Unleashes M9.2 Solar Flare – Produces CME; Possible Glancing Blow To Earth; Moderate HF Radio Blackout Over The Pacific Ocean!

March 9, 2015 – SPACE – Emerging sunspot AR2297 has erupted again, producing its strongest flare yet: an M9-class explosion on March 7th at 22:22 UT. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the extreme ultraviolet flash:

Radiation from the flare ionized the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere on the dayside of the planet.

This caused a moderate HF radio blackout over the Pacific Ocean. Mariners and hams operating at frequencies below 10 MHz woud likely have noticed disturbed and/or attenuated signals in the red zone of this NOAA blackout map:

There’s more to this explosion than a solar flare. SOHO coronagraphs show a CME emerging from the blast site, as well: image. The cloud of plasma will probably miss Earth, but a glancing blow cannot yet be ruled out based on the limited data at hand.

ALERT: Type IV Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2015 Mar 07 2204 UTC
Description: Type IV emissions occur in association with major eruptions on the sun and are typically associated with strong coronal mass ejections and solar radiation storms.

ALERT: Type II Radio Emission

Begin Time: 2015 Mar 07 2157 UTC
Estimated Velocity: 704 km/s
Description: Type II emissions occur in association with eruptions on the sun and typically indicate a coronal mass ejection is associated with a flare event.

More flares are in the offing. The magnetic canopy of sunspot AR2297 has been exploding at least once a day for the past three days, and there is no reason to expect a cessation.

WATCH: Major M9.2 Solar Flare & CME – March 7, 2015.


Sunspots

Solar activity declined to low levels on Sunday. Region 2297, the source of a near X-Flare on Saturday, was fairly stable with only minor C-Flares detected. The active region will continue to be a threat for another isolated M-Class event as it turns into a more geoeffective position.

Periods of minor geomagnetic activity at high latitudes will be possible during the next few days as an elevated solar wind streams past our planet. Aurora watchers should be alert during the next day or so.

Coronal Holes

Credit: SDO/AIA.

Earth is inside a solar wind stream flowing from the indicated coronal hole.

Chance of Storms

NOAA forecasters estimate a 40% to 45% chance of geomagnetic storms this weekend as a high-speed solar wind stream buffets Earth’s magnetic field. Arctic sky watchers should be alert for auroras on March 8-9.

Auroras

Above is a nice image from over the weekend courtesy of Joni Alavesa in Keminmaa, Lapland, Finland. Thanks for sharing!

Space Weather | Solar Ham | Solar Watcher.

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