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Tags:
magnetic reconnection, space weather, solar flares, solar tsunami
Sunspot 1882 unleashing an X2.1 Solar Flare.  Photo from NASAs SDO AIA 94 Imager
Sunspot 1882 unleashing an X2.1 Solar Flare. Photo from NASAs SDO AIA 94 Imager

Sunspot 1882, which just rotated onto the Earthside facing portion of the sun, has lit off two X-Class solar flares. Both flares are expected to be geoeffective.

The speed at which sunspot 1882 is firing off rounds may indicate it will continue to do so over the next few days. As it is on the eastern limb of the sun, most of its energy will be directed away from the Earth, but as the sun rotates it will be more apt to cause geomagnetic storms here on Earth.

The Flare Monitor at Bradford has downgraded previous forecasts for overall solar flares, and the NOAA has also downgraded the threat. However, the NOAA report was written before the latest X-Class flares, and a new report isn't due from them until 4pm MDT today.

Even though it is facing mostly away from the Earth, the incoming solar storms will likely just barely hit the Earth as it passes by. This brief storm may actually be intense, as it may cause a phenomenon called magnetic reconnection, where the magnetic connection between the sun and the Earth will have to re-align. During magnetic reconnection, which is usually brief, our magnetosphere will not protect us as much from cosmic rays and solar storms as it normally does.

Though the science behind magnetic reconnection is still new, what is known is that it is most dangerous to the sunlit side of the Earth, as it may allow more charged particles to travel deeper into Earths atmosphere. It could have health concern for high-altitude aircraft, as well as astronauts. It could also have effects for people directly under the location that the magnetic reconnection occurs, but this is mostly dependent on additional flares occurring at the same instant the magnetic reconnection happens (highly unlikely).

Stay tuned for more information, or subscribe to our Space Weather Alerts.

Update: 10/25/2013 10:20 AM MDT

Both flares also caused multiple radio emissions, which may have the following effects:

R3 - Strong
Potential Impacts: Area of impact consists of large portions of the sunlit side of Earth, strongest at the sub-solar point.
Radio - Wide area blackout of HF (high frequency) radio communication for about an hour.

Type IV Radio Emission
Begin Time: 2013 Oct 25 1458 UTC
Description: 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.

Space Weather Message Code: SUM10R
Serial Number: 592
Issue Time: 2013 Oct 25 1605 UTC

SUMMARY: 10cm Radio Burst
Begin Time: 2013 Oct 25 1457 UTC
Maximum Time: 2013 Oct 25 1514 UTC
End Time: 2013 Oct 25 1541 UTC
Duration: 44 minutes
Peak Flux: 370 sfu
Latest Penticton Noon Flux: 161 sfu
Description: 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.

D-RAP Global (1 dB ABS)
Conditions in the D region of the ionosphere have a dramatic effect on high frequency (HF) communications and low frequency (LF) navigation systems. The global D Region Absorption Predictions (D-RAP) depicts the D region at high latitudes where it is driven by particles as well as low latitudes, where photons cause the prompt changes. This product merges all latitudes using appropriate displays, and is useful to customers from a broad base that includes emergency management, aviation and maritime users.

Timelapse NASA ADO Composite Image from 10/23 - 10/25

The following video taken from NASA's SDO, shows the initial two sunspots (1875 & 1877) erupting, causing a solar tsumani that eventually causes sunspot 1882 to explode.

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