Coronal hole faces Earth

Sunday, 29 January 2017 - 12:24 UTC

Coronal hole faces Earth

Solar activity hit low levels yesterday (thanks to a C-class solar flare) but we will likely drop down to very low solar activity today as there are no sunspot regions on the earth-facing solar disk which look like they are complex enough to produce C, M or X-class solar flares. That doesn't mean we are heading into a period of quiet space weather as a large coronal hole is facing our planet today and sending an enhanced solar wind stream towards our planet.

Our automated coronal hole detection system detected the gaping hole in the solar corona and published a tweet on our Twitter channel @_SpaceWeather_

It is indeed the northern extension of the southern hemisphere polar coronal hole that survived its trip around the far side of the Sun and it is once more sending a high speed solar wind stream towards our planet. If we compare this coronal hole with how it look like during the last rotation we see that it actually didn't change too much since the last time it faced our planet. It remains a massive coronal hole that stretches all the way to the solar equator and we expect to see very similar conditions as when it faced our planet during the beginning of this month. Solar wind speeds of about 700 to 750km/s are to be expected. The solar wind stream should arrive in about two days from now on 31 January 2017 and minor G1 geomagnetic storm conditions are possible when the solar wind stream arrives.

Eruptive C-class solar flare

Departing sunspot region 2627 produced a C2.8 solar flare last night from behind the west limb. A very minor coronal mass ejection was launched but it is not directed towards Earth. The two remaining sunspot regions are unlikely to produce more than B-class activity.

Image: X-ray graph of 28/01/2017

Image: the coronal mass ejection launched by yesterday's C-class solar flare. It is not directed towards Earth. Image by SOHO/LASCO.

Current data suggest that it is not possible to see aurora now at middle latitudes
G1 - Minor geomagnetic storm
Observed Kp: 5+
The solar wind speed is currently moderately high (629.6 km/sec.)

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