Spouting Off (September 9, 2011)
Hi-res TIF image (2.4M)
The Sun produced three good-sized solar storms in less than three days, which put on a good show for SOHO's C3 coronagraph (Sept. 5-7, 2011). The first storm, early on the 5th, was an M-class flare that erupted near the edge of the Sun. The second one, early on the 6th, was an M5.3 X-ray flare associated with a coronal mass ejection. The last and largest, late on the 6th, was an X2 flare (meaning in the largest category).
The bright object seen to the left of the Sun is planet Venus, which is so bright that it saturates the CCD camera so that "bleeding" occurs along the pixel rows (bright streak).
This is just the fifth X-class flare of this solar cycle. The last two of these eruptions hurled clouds of plasma in the general direction of Earth (coronal mass ejections). The last of these could generate aurora in a few days. A string of eruptions in a few days suggest that solar activity for the solar cycle seems to be picking up.
SOHO began its Weekly Pick some time after sending a weekly image or video clip to the American Museum of Natural History (Rose Center) in New York City. There, the SOHO Weekly Pick is displayed with some annotations on a large plasma display.
If your institution would also like to receive the same Weekly Pick from us for display (usually in Photoshop or QuickTime format), please send your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.