Earth is entering the line of fire as the huge sunspot 1476 rotates across the face of the sun into geoeffective position. Sunspot 1476 is crackling with M-class solar flares and its 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field harbors energy for X-class flares. NOAA/SWPC estimated that there is 10% chance for X-class and 65% for M-class solar flare events. It will be in direct alignment with earth in a few days, so CME's then would be likely to spawn geomagnetic activity.
A strong solar flare centered around Sunspot 1476, reaching M5.7, took place at 04:18 UTC Thursday morning. Most of the flare events thus far have not produced any large Coronal Mass Ejections (CME). 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. NOAA/SWPC issued R2 Radio Blackout alert (Moderate). It means limited blackout of HF radio communication on sunlit side, loss of radio contact for tens of minutes and degradation of low-frequency navigation signals for tens of minutes.
A 10cm radio burst indicates that the electromagnetic burst associated with a solar flare at the 10cm wavelength was double or greater than the initial 10cm radio background. This can be indicative of significant radio noise in association with a solar flare. This noise is generally short-lived but can cause interference for sensitive receivers including radar, GPS, and satellite communications. Amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft of New Mexico detected strong shortwave radio bursts coming from the sunspot. Click on the image to hear the solar static sound.
Sunspot AR1476 is so large, people are noticing it without the aid of a solar telescope. The behemoth appears at sunrise and sunset when the light of the low-hanging sun is occasionally dimmed to human visibility. The sprawling active region stretches about 160,000 km, or a dozen times wider than Earth. New Sunspot 1477 rotated into view off the southeast limb. This looks to be the return of old Sunspot 1462. Elsewhere, all other regions are currently quiet.
speed: 611.9 km/sec
density: 0.1 protons/cm3
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: C8 0522 UT May10
24-hr: M5 0418 UT May10
The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 123 sfu
Now: Kp= 2 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4 unsettled
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.0 nT
Bz: 1.8 nT north
Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity (09 May 2012)
Solar activity has been at moderate levels for the past 24 hours. Region 1476 (N10E22) continues to be the most complex and most active spot region on the visible disk. It produced an M4/1n x-ray flare at 09/1232Z, and an M1/1b x-ray flare at 09/1408Z. This spot region continues to grow in area, reaching 1050 Millionths and remains a Fkc/beta-gamma-delta configuration. Solar activity is expected to be at low to moderate levels for the next three days (10-12 May).
The geomagnetic field has been at unsettled to active levels for the past 24 hours. The geomagnetic field is expected to be unsettled to active with a slight chance for minor storming on day one (10 May) due to increased wind speeds associated with the Coronal Hole High Speed Stream (CH HSS). Days two and three (11-12 May) are expected to be at quiet to unsettled levels as the effects of the CH HSS begin to wane.
Featured image credit: Alberto Lao