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Turbulent Sun
Turbulent Sun
24 Oct 2003
(Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Media Contact:
Barbara McGehan, NOAA Space Environment Center
(303) 497-6288,

Oct. 24, 2003


The geomagnetic storm predicted by the NOAA Space Environment Center hit the Earth's magnetic field at 11:30 a.m. EDT on Friday. It is currently at the strong G-3 level on the NOAA space weather scales -- the highest being a G5. The solar particles and energy produced as a result of this storm can produce effects for many hours, so there is a possibility of seeing the aurora borealis or northern lights in the northern latitudes Friday night.

Two very large sun spot regions continue to maintain their size and magnetic intensity. There have been three major flares in the last 24 hours, which caused considerable disruption of high frequency communication. More large flares are expected in the next few days.

"So far this storm is materializing as expected," said NOAA space weather forecaster Bill Murtagh. NOAA forecasters predicted the onset of the magnetic storm to occur midday Friday. The magnitude the of G-3 level storm is also in line with NOAA predictions.

NOAA thus far has not received any reports of the storm's effects.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Relevant Web Sites

  • NOAA Space Environment Center
  • NOAA Space Weather Scales
  • Latest SOHO images IMAGE CAPTION:
[ (171KB)]
Image from the SOHO spacecraft of the intense solar activity on the sun taken Oct. 24, 2003, at 10:24 a.m. EDT. Credit: SOHO

ESA News

24 October 2003

Massive sunspot faces Earth

Our Sun has been remarkably active this week. Sunspot 484, which first appeared last weekend, has grown into one of the biggest sunspots seen in years.

Now about the size of the planet Jupiter, it's easy to see. But never look directly at the sun!

Sunspots are cooler regions of the Sun where magnetic energy builds up, often prior to eruptions.

While being monitored by the ESA/NASA SOHO spacecraft, this particular sunspot let loose a storm of energetic particles, known as a 'coronal mass ejection' on Wednesday, 22 October 2003.

The expanding cloud is expected to arrive at Earth on Friday, 24 October, and this activity could generate colourful aurorae, or Northern Lights, over the northern USA and much of northern Europe.

Major eruptions known as ?solar flares? are also possible from these active regions as they rotate across the face of the sun over the next two weeks.

Satellite and other spacecraft operations, power systems, radio communications and navigation systems on Earth may experience disruptions.

More about ...

  • SOHO overview

Related articles

  • Safety tips for observing the Sun
  • How the Sun affects us on Earth
  • Space weather
  • What are solar flares?

Related links

  • ESA's SOHO home page
  • The Sun now

[NOTE: Images supporting this release are available at ]

ESA Science News

24 Oct 2003

Keep track of solar activity
At 08:35 on 23 October a class X5 solar flare erupted from a sunspot on the solar surface. This giant eruption has sent out a second coronal mass ejection (CME) into space just hours after an earlier eruption. Both CMEs could interact with the Earth and its local space environoment sometime in the next 24 to 48 hours.

The first eruption is associated a large sunspot group now visible near the centre of the solar disk and is visible to naked eye. The second CME came from an active region that is just coming around at the East limb and that SOHO/MDI observed growing on the farside of the Sun last week.

One possible effect of such eruptions could be to disrupt satellite operations or forcing a temporary shut-down of operations to protect against the onslaught. Two spacecraft, however, will remain active -- SOHO and Cluster. SOHO and Cluster are both monitoring the Sun and its effects on the near Earth space environment. Data from these spacecraft can be accessed real time enabling you to monitor changes and interactions at the same time as scientists around the world.

SOHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory) is located between the Sun and the Earth and will, therefore, detect activity before it reaches the Earth. The spacecraft provides images, across a number of wavebands, x-ray flux measurements, proton counting rates and measurements of the soalr wind. The data can be accessed at the SOHO spaceweather website.

Cluster is an arrangement four spacecraft providing a detailed three-dimensional map of the magnetosphere. Available data includes measurements of the magnetic field, of the ion stream and of proton fluxes in the near Earth environment. The data can be accessed at the Cluster Science Data System website.

For further information please contact:


  • SOHO Spaceweather
  • Live Cluster Data
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Last Updated: 28 Oct 2003