PICK OF THE WEEK
 
Pick of The Week
 
 

Earth-bound solar storm (December 13, 2006)


Hi-res TIF image(3.2M)

Movies:

MPEG:
LASCO C2: Large (2.5M), Small (507K)
EIT 195: Large (801K), Small (220K)

Quicktime:
LASCO C2: Very Large ( 57M), Large (5.0M), Small (762K)
EIT 195 Very Large ( 31M), Large (1.8M), Small (152K)

The Sun unleashed a large (X-3 class) solar flare December 13, 2006 along with a coronal mass ejection (CME) that appears to be headed towards Earth. The source of these eruptions was the very active sunspot region 930. A shower of high-energy particles appeared as specks and white streaks on the imagers aboard SOHO, the primary watchdog for solar storms. The video clip from LASCO C2 coronagraph shows a CME emerging from behind the occulting disk and then almost immediately the imager is being struck by the particles (that travel at half the speed of light).

The storm does not present a danger to the astronauts on board the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station as they are within the Earth's protective magnetic shield and in the protective walls of the spacecraft. However, the bulk of the cloud of particles from the CME could reach Earth in about a day or two. It might generate colorful aurora and pose some threat for spacecraft, communications equipment, and power systems on Earth. Currently, the stream of radiation and solar particles streaming by Earth is described by NOAA as a category S2 storm, relatively mild as these things go.

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 steele.hill@gsfc.nasa.gov.

 
 

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