M3 solar flare with earth-directed CME

Friday, 19 June 2015 - 00:45 UTC

M3 solar flare with earth-directed CME

Just hours after we mentioned the potential of sunspot region 2371, it erupted with a stunning long duration M3.0 (R1-minor) solar flare that peaked at 17:36 UTC. A large coronal mass ejection was launched that expanded to an asymmetrical full halo coronal mass ejection. What that means is that this coronal mass ejection is likely to arrive at Earth in a couple of days.

Video: the M3.0 solar flare as seen by SDO in the 193 Angstrom wavelength.

The solar flare was a long duration event and despite only being a minor event when it comes to strong solar flares, it produced a very respectable coronal mass ejection. As was to be expected, the bulk of the plasma cloud can be seen heading well east of Earth but on SOHO/LASCO C2 (see animation below) we can see that the coronal mass ejection expands to form a full halo around the coronagraph and that means good news for sky watchers around the world: this plasma cloud will likely arrive at Earth.

CACTus estimates that the coronal mass ejection left the Sun at a speed of about 800km/s. Factoring in the current ambient solar wind speed of 400km/s which will slow down the CME a bit, we conclude that the coronal mass ejection will take about two and a half to three days to arrive at Earth. We expect this coronal mass ejection to arrive at Earth around 12:00 UTC on Sunday (June 21) with a plus/minus of 6 hours.

As we said before, the bulk of the coronal mass ejection is not coming towards us but the halo was very well defined on LASCO which means we do expect a decent impact. There will be a good chance for minor G1 geomagnetic storming conditions after the plasma cloud arrives with a lesser chance for moderate G2 geomagnetic storming conditions if the direction of the IMF (Bz) cooperates.

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