A magnetic filament erupted on Tuesday in the Sun, which is heading towards the Earth. The eruption might stimulate auroras particularly in the polar regions on Friday, Dec. 3.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) solar dynamics observatory detected a magnetic eruption in the Sun's northeastern quadrant during the late hours of Tuesday.
The magnetic eruption produced a B-class solar flare and hurled a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. Due to the eruption, high-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras on Dec. 3.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters estimate a 30 percent chance of geomagnetic activity on December 3 when the CME is expected to deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field.
NOAA space weather prediction center issued a 3-day solar-activity forecast on Dec. 1 at 10:00 pm UTC, where solar activity is expected to be very low-to-low.
There is a chance for additional C-class activity due to the growth of Region 1130 and the return of old Regions 1124 and 1123 in the Sun, the center predicted.
In the geophysical-activity forecast, the center expects the geomagnetic field to be mostly quiet on Dec. 2. Quiet-to-unsettled conditions with a chance for isolated active periods is expected on December 3 and 4, it said.
The conditions are due to possible effects from a CME associated with the disappearing filament observed on Nov. 29. The CME observed on Nov. 30 could also contribute to elevated activity on December 3 and 4.
Auroras can be spotted throughout the world and on other planets. They are most visible closer to the poles due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field.
Auroras are more frequent and brighter during the intense phase of the solar cycle when coronal mass ejections increase the intensity of the solar wind. The last solar maximum was in 2000. The next peak is expected by NASA scientists in 2013.
The solar dynamics observatory (SDO) spacecraft was assembled and tested at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, and launched on February 11, 2010, from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The observatory is part of the Living With a Star (LWS) program.
The primary mission of the SDO, which will observe the Sun, is scheduled to last five years and three months, with expendables expected to last for ten years. Some consider SDO to be a follow-on mission to the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO).
LWS is a NASA scientific program to study the Sun-Earth system that directly affects life and society. LWS is a cross-cutting initiative with goals and objectives relevant to NASA's Exploration Initiative, as well as to NASA's Strategic Enterprises. The program is managed by the Heliophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate.