Giant sunspot region 2192, active aurora

Tuesday, 21 October 2014 21:07 UTC

Giant sunspot region 2192, active aurora

Sunspot region 2192 reached a size of 2400 millionths today according to the NOAA SWPC making it the largest sunspot region of this solar cycle and the largest sunspot group since sunspot region 486 which was the source of several strong solar storms almost 11 years ago. Sunspot region 2192 has been producing several M-class solar flares since our last update but only one of those M-class solar flares occurred today. It was an impulsive M1.2 (R1-minor) solar flare that peaked at 13:38 UTC. None of the solar flares mentioned have produced a coronal mass ejection. In this news article we take a look at sunspot region 2192 and the current geomagnetic conditions.

Evolution of sunspot region 2192

As mentioned in our previous reports the cluster of delta spots in the western part of the region are gradually floating westwards away from the leading spots in the east. Due to this movement, the penumbral area between the two polarity zones has a very crumbled view and as the sunspot further evolves it will separate itself from the main spots meaning these spots can't be classified as delta spots and thus make the region less magnetically complex on that part. This was also reflected in todays activity with only an occasional C-class flare and one impulsive M-class solar flare. There is still spot development going on in the northern part of the region and in the southwestern part, so it does not mean the sunspot is beginning to come in a phase of decay, a new small delta spot has formed in the southwestern part so the region remains magnetically complex. Sunspot region 2192 remains capable of producing M-class flares with a slight chance for an X-class event. 

All the other sunspot regions on the disk are unremarkable. Any future solar flares will very likely be centered around sunspot region 2192 which is now rotating into a better earth-facing position.

Images: NASA SDO.

Solar flare odds for the coming 24 hours

M-class flare probability: 60% chance
X-class flare probability: 10% chance

Geomagnetic conditions

We can write pretty much the same here as yesterday as geomagnetic conditions remain elevated thanks to continuing coronal hole effects. Minor G1 geomagnetic storm conditions were reached last night (UTC time) which sparked aurora over many high latitude locations in Europe. This stunning image below was captured last evening by Gibfoto from Tromsø, Norway.

Aurora Borealis as seen from Norway

The solar wind speed remains well elevated near 600km/s with a variable IMF direction. Active (Kp4) geomagnetic conditions remain possible. Sky watchers in Scotland, Norway, large parts of Sweden, Finland and those near the US-Canadian border should remain alert for aurora as coronal hole effects continue to influence space weather near Earth.

Any mentioned solar flare in this article has a scaling factor applied by the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), the reported solar flares are 42% smaller than for the science quality data. The scaling factor has been removed from our archived solar flare data to reflect the true physical units.

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