Space Weather

Space Weather

Space weather describes changing environmental conditions in near-Earth space. Magnetic fields, radiation, particles and matter, which have been ejected from the Sun, can interact with the Earth’s upper atmosphere and surrounding magnetic field to produce a  variety of effects.

Image courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams

Space weather notifications

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Aurora forecasts

Northern Hemisphere

Minor enhancements in the auroral oval are possible through the next couple of days, but any aurora is likely to be restricted to higher latitudes, and any sightings will be limited by the current short nights.

Southern Hemisphere

Minor enhancements in the auroral oval are possible through the next couple of days, but any aurora is likely to be restricted to higher latitudes.

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Forecast overview

Space Weather Forecast Headline: R1-R2 Radio Blackouts likely with Moderate-class X-ray flares. Chance of Strong flares and R3 Radio blackouts   

Analysis of Space Weather Activity over past 24 hours

Solar Activity: Solar activity has been Moderate in the last 24 hours with three Moderate class flares observed, the largest of which was from a small region to the southwest of the larger and more complex sunspot group in the central north disc.  This larger region has continued to show some very slow growth. Despite this, flare activity of this region has remained somewhat muted so far, although the other two observed Moderate flares originated from this region. The five other regions on the disc remain much smaller, and are either stable or showing signs of declining. There were no Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) observed. 

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: The solar wind continued slightly elevated to elevated during this period, with a small enhancement observed around 19/1318 UTC. This was also seen in the magnetic field carried by the wind, rising from weak to moderate levels at this time. However, the source of the enhancement was uncertain, likely due to interactions with a further fast wind arrival, but perhaps due to the arrival of a weak CME. The north-south component of the magnetic field remained weak however. Geomagnetic activity was Quiet to Unsettled.

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) remained at background with no enhancement from any of the flares that occurred. Consequently no solar radiation storms occurred.

Four-Day Space Weather Forecast Summary

Solar Activity: Solar activity is Likely to be Moderate, with further M-class flares, and a Chance of an isolated Strong-class flare (R3 Radio Blackout). The main source of the activity is likely to be from the large central disc sunspot, although some further flaring is also possible the sunspot near this region that produced the larger moderate flare on the 19th, and with a lower chance from the other five regions. 

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: A weak CME was observed which could have originated from AR3015 at 17/0510 UTC. This has been assessed as most likely passing behind Earth's orbit on day 1 (20th), but may give a glancing blow but with very low confidence. This possible has also already passed on the 19th. Slightly elevated to elevated solar winds are expected to persist through much of the period, as further coronal hole sourced fast wind influence is anticipate day 1 (20th). Geomagnetic activity is forecast to be Quiet with isolated Unsettled spells, and a chance of becoming Unsettled to Active on day 1.

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The energetic particle count rate is expected to remain at background, but has a slight chance of increasing due to any large flares that may occur from AR3014. This giving a slight chance of solar radiation storms.

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Solar imagery

SDO AIA-193

This channel highlights the outer atmosphere of the Sun - called the corona - as well as hot flare plasma. Hot active regions, solar flares, and coronal mass ejections will appear bright here. The dark areas - called coronal holes - are places where very little radiation is emitted, yet are the main source of solar wind particles.

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SDO AIA-304

This channel is especially good at showing areas where cooler dense plumes of plasma (filaments and prominences) are located above the visible surface of the Sun. Many of these features either can't be seen or appear as dark lines in the other channels. The bright areas show places where the plasma has a high density.

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