mercoledì 10 maggio 2017

A 'STEALTH CME' APPROACHES: When the sun blasts a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space, the event is usually announced by the bright flash of a solar flare or the collapse of a towering magnetic filament. But not always. Sometimes CMEs slowly materialize on their own without an instigating explosion. These are called "stealth CMEs," and one of them is heading for Earth now. A relatively gentle blow from the slow-moving storm cloud could unsettle Earth's polar magnetic field on May 10th. Free: Aurora Alerts
THE SUN IS BLANK: Today the sun is blank--no sunspots. The disk of our star is completely featureless, as shown in this white light image taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory on May 10th:
This is the 31st day in 2017 that the sun has been without spots. Cumulatively, it adds up to an entire month of spotlessness--and it's only May. For comparison, the sun was blank on 32 days in the whole of 2016. The accelerating pace of spotless suns is a sign that Solar Minimum is approaching.

Solar Minimum is yin to the yang of Solar Maximum, a natural part of the sun's ~11 year sunspot cycle. Contrary to popular belief, Solar Minimum is not boring ...only different. It brings a time of enhanced cosmic rays, pink auroras, a collapsing ionosphere and accumulating space junk. With action like that, who needs sunspots? Stay tuned for more blank suns.

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