STRONG SOLAR FLARE AND CME: After days of suspenseful quiet, huge sunspot AR2665 finally erupted on July 14th (0209 UT), producing a powerful and long-lasting M2-class solar flare. Extreme ultraviolet telescopes onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the blast:
Remarkably, the explosion persisted for more than two hours, producing a sustained fusillade of X-rays and energetic protons that ionized the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere. Shortwave radio blackouts were subsequently observed over the Pacific Ocean and especially around the Arctic Circle. This map from NOAA shows the affected geographic regions.
Of even greater interest is the coronal mass ejection (CME). The explosion hurled a bright CME away from the blast site, and it appears to be heading for Earth:
This expanding cloud will likely reach our planet on July 16th, possibly sparking geomagnetic storms and high-latitude auroras when it arrives. Stay tuned for improved predictions as NOAA analysts model the trajectory and potency of the incoming CME. Free: Aurora Alerts