Sunday, January 29, 2012

Windy Today


As this image shows, I have the solar wind in mind. According to NASA, a big solar wind is emanating from roughly the S-shaped area around 3:30 on the sun-clock. All this turbulence dates back to last Friday when an X2 magnitude solar flare made a spectacle of itself. Herewith a graphic showing it:


The chart is quite informative. If you examine the scale on the right, you will see NASA’s categorization of solar flares: A, B, C, M, and X. An X2 flare, such as that shown for last Friday, is considered a major event. It is accompanied on earth by the fading of short wave signals and strong radio bursts that interfere with satellite-to-earth communications. Note particularly that the distances between the subdivisions of each class are logarithmic rather than linear; on that scale the distance between 1 and 2 is huge!

The image of the sun is from NASA’s Solar Observatory/Atmospheric Imaging Assembly, the graph is from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center. That NOAA name always amuses me: it suggests that we are able to “administer” the oceans and the atmosphere…

2 comments:

  1. Arsen, if you track down the NPR Science Friday podcast from Friday (the first hour) they had a solar scientist on as a guest to talk about sunspots, and it happened to be right when this flare was flaring up. It made for a really good show. Well worth checking out!

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