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In the news this month: solar flares as activity increases is solar cycle 24

Sunspot 1158
Sunspot 1158 CREDIT: Karzaman Ahmad, Langkawi National Observatory, Malaysia
After a prolonged period of very little activity, the Sun produced the first X-class flare of solar cycle 24 during February. X-class flares are the most powerful solar events, producing X-rays and sending large amounts of charged particles out into space in what is known as a coronal mass ejection, or CME. Originating from a spot on the Sun's surface known as Active Region 1158, a region wider than Jupiter containing several sunspots, this particular eruption (the strongest in four years) peaked at 0156 UT on February 15th and resulted in a CME heading in our direction, producing some good displays of aurora at high latitudes a few days later. On February 18th, sunspot complex 1161-1162 also erupted, sending a further significant CME in the Earth's direction. Now that the Sun's activity is starting to increase again, it is worth taking a look, but make sure that if you do observe the Sun, you do it safely. NEVER point a telescope or binoculars at the Sun.

This blog post is a news story from the Jodcast, aired in the March 2011 edition.

Posted by Megan on Wednesday 02nd Mar 2011 (06:40 UTC) | Add a comment | Permalink


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