"But who gives a hoot," he continued, "this grand active region looks fantastic from every perspective."
The owl could be poised to explode. Sunspot AR1734 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares, almost-certainly Earth-directed because the sunspot is facing our planet.
NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-flares today. The question is, where will the eruptions come from? There are at least three choices: Sunspots AR1731, AR1734, and AR1739 all have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that harbor energy for strong eruptions. The largest of the three, AR1734, is directly facing Earth:
Amateur astronomer Pepe Manteca took the picture yesterday from Barcelona, Spain. The large dark core on the right is more than 3 times wider than Earth--dimensions that made the spot an easy target for Manteca's backyard solar telescope. "It is a stunning sunspot!" he says.
IMPULSIVE SOLAR FLARES: A couple of impulsive solar flares were detected around Sunspot 1739 on Sunday afternoon. The first measured M1.4 at 17:56 UTC, and the second measured C8.3 at 20:02. This region may produce further M-Class activity within the next 24-48 hours.
M5 SOLAR TORNADO: Sunspot group AR1739 erupted on May 3rd, producing an M5-class solar flare and a "solar tornado."
WATCH: Solar Tornado.
The explosion also hurled a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space: movie. Traveling almost 1300 km/s, the electrified cloud is expected to sweep past a couple of NASA spacecraft (EPOXI and Spitzer) on May 7th. No planets, however, were in the line of fire.
SUNSPOTS: Below is an updated image of the visible solar disk on Monday morning. Solar activity declined to lower levels this morning. Sunspot 1731 is now located on the western limb and will continue to rotate out of direct Earth view. Active Sunspot 1739 is showing signs of decay and may soon no longer be a threat for strong solar flares. Sunspots 1732, 1734, 1738 and 1740 all continue to be stable and quiet. There will remain a chance for at least M-Class flares today.
|Three sunspots have beta-gamma magnetic fields that harbor energy for M-class solar flares:|
AR1731, AR1734, and AR1739.
CORONAL HOLE: Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole should reach Earth on ~May 6-7.