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

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Aurora forecasts

Northern Hemisphere

There is a possibility of slightly enhanced geomagnetic conditions into the 28th, with a slight chance of Minor geomagnetic storms. This is due to the influence of fast solar winds from a coronal hole. Aurora may be visible mostly at high latitudes, with a slight chance of being visible over the far north of Scotland and similar geomagnetic latitudes given clear conditions. Activity then declining after the 28th.

Southern Hemisphere

There is a possibility of slightly enhanced geomagnetic conditions into the 28th, with a slight chance of Minor geomagnetic storms. This is due to the influence of fast solar winds from a coronal hole. Aurora may be visible mostly at high latitudes, with a slight chance of being visible up to around 58 degrees South. Activity then declining after the 28th.

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Forecast overview

Space Weather Forecast Headline: Slight chance of R1/R2 Radio Blackouts. Slight chance of G1/Minor Storm Days 1, 2 and 4 (28, 29 and 31 Jan)

Analysis of Space Weather Activity over past 24 hours

Solar Activity: Solar activity has been Low over the past 24 hours with the largest flare emanating from an emerging region of magnetic complexity near the southeast limb. This leaves eight other sunspot regions on the visible disc. However, all regions are small, weak, magnetically simple and mostly stable. Some minor growth has been seen near centre disc, but these regions remain fairly simple at this time.

No Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) were detected in available imagery. 

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: The solar wind has been at elevated levels over the last 24 hours, under the influence of a coronal hole fast wind. Wind speeds varied between 500-580 km/s. The total Interplanetary Magnetic Field was mostly weak, but reached moderate levels between 27/0400-0930 UTC. The north-south component fluctuated weakly. Geomagnetic Activity was Quiet to Unsettled (Kp 0-3).

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) persisted at background levels with no solar radiation storms occurring. 

Four-Day Space Weather Forecast Summary

Solar Activity: Solar activity is expected to be predominantly Low, with a slight chance of isolated Moderate-class flares. 

Solar Wind / Geomagnetic Activity: No Earth-directed CMEs are currently expected during this period. Earth is under the influence of a coronal hole fast wind. Wind speeds are most likely to remain elevated through Day 1 (28 Jan), then show a slow decline in the coming days, perhaps to background levels by Days 3-4 (30-31 Jan). Further fast wind influence may start to give an increase in wind speeds later on Day 4, but it is more likely to occur after the end of this four day period.

Geomagnetic activity is expected to be Quiet to Unsettled (Kp 1-3), with a declining chance of isolated Active (Kp 4) intervals and just a slight chance of G1/Minor Storms (Kp 5) through Days 1 and 2, perhaps again later on Day 4 if we do see further fast wind influence.

Energetic Particles / Solar Radiation: The count rate of energetic particles (high energy protons) is currently expected to remain at background levels with no solar radiation storms occurring.

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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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