Sun Continues Hurling Solar Storms at Earth
12 Apr 2001
(Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)
NOAA Space Environment Center, Boulder, Colo.
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For the past two weeks, the sun has been particularly active and will remain so possibly for another two weeks, say NOAA researchers. "We're ringing the bells," said Joseph Kunches of NOAA's Space Environment Center in Boulder. Colo.
Yet another a major flare and coronal mass ejection, or CME, erupted from the sun Thursday. This latest activity should fuel the current magnetic storm, which is weakening. Those looking at the night sky over most of the upper U.S. could see the aurora borealis or northern lights over the next few nights.
The activity could continue through the weekend, subside, and then possibly restart as another active region, which provided many of the solar flares a few weeks ago, turns toward Earth.
Thursday's flare came from an area of the sun identified as 9415, the same region that produced two fast-moving coronal mass ejections and flares on April 10.
"The sun rotates about 15 degrees each day, so this area should be going away in a few days," Kunches said. "However, the one that was really active two weeks ago is 180 degrees away from this one, so it will be coming around again. We're waiting the arrival of that one."
The sun is experiencing "solar max," a period of activity that happens about every 11 years and lasts for about three or four years. Kunches said he and his colleagues have noticed periods of strong activity which have recently occurred about every three or four months. "This one is prolonged because of the two back-to-back areas," he said.
NOAA's Space Environment Center is the nation's official source of space weather alerts and warnings and continually monitors and forecasts Earth's space environment.
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