ERUPTS WITH INTENSE ACTIVITY
McGehan, NOAA Space Environment
Center, (303) 497-6288
22, 2003 — Forecasters at the NOAA
Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., observed two
dynamic areas of the sun, one of which has produced a coronal
mass ejection, or CME, Wednesday morning at 3 a.m. EDT that appears
to be Earth-directed. The forecasters are predicting a strong
geomagnetic storm, G-3
on the NOAA Space Weather Scales, that should reach Earth
on Friday, October 24. (Click here to view larger image
from the SOHO spacecraft of the intense solar activity on the
sun taken Oct. 21, 2003. Click
here to view high resolution version, which is a large file. Click
here to view latest images. Please credit “SOHO.”)
Region 484 developed rapidly over the past three days and is
now one of the largest sunspot clusters to emerge during Solar
Cycle 23. It is about 10 times larger than the Earth. This region,
which is nearing the center of the sun, already produced a major
flare, R-3 on the NOAA Space Weather Scales, producing a radio
blackout on October 19 at 12:50 p.m EDT. The region continues
to grow, and additional substantial flare activity is likely.
Combs, a forecaster with the NOAA Space Environment Center’s
Space Weather Operations, said that this region has developed
rapidly over the last three to four days. “It’s somewhat
unusual to have this much activity when we’re approximately
three-and-a-half years past solar maximum,” he said. “In
fact, just last week, solar activity was very low with an almost
spotless sun.” Solar cycles of high and low activity repeat
about every eleven years, and the sun has been moving towards
solar minimum for the past three years.
second intense active region is rotating on the southeast quadrant
of the sun. Although the sunspot group is not yet visible, two
powerful eruptions occurred on October 21 as seen from the LASCO
instrument on the SOHO spacecraft.
These eruptions may herald the arrival of another volatile active
center with the potential to impact various Earth systems.
major eruptions are 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, high frequency
communications, and navigation systems may experience disruptions
over this two-week period.
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