Huge Sunquakes Triggered by Solar Eruptions

Massive solar wind bursts and magnetic fields can cause ripples on sun’s surface

By Kat Piper
Epoch Times Staff
Created: March 30, 2012
Last Updated: April 4, 2012

Massive bursts of solar wind and magnetic fields from the Sun can cause huge sunquakes, according to new UK research.

The results of the study, led by University College London’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, are being presented by Dr Sergei Zharkovat at the National Astronomy Meeting 2012 in Manchester on Friday, March 30.

Research over the last 10 years has shown that sunquakes can be produced when solar flares—huge explosions of energy in the Sun’s atmosphere—impact and travel into the Sun. The quakes appear as circular ripples on the surface of the Sun.

The new study shows that eruptions of charged particles and magnetic fields known as Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are also able to produce sunquakes.

“Sunquakes are generated by solar flares, when enormous amounts of energy are released high up in the solar atmosphere. Most of the energy goes up into interplanetary space, but a fraction of this energy travels to the Sun’s surface creating a sonic boom that causes the solar interior to oscillate and produce the ripples,” explained Zharkov in an email.

“I sometimes think of sunquakes as thunder to the flare’s lightning, except imagine a lightning over an ocean that is so strong that it creates a tsunami.”

The researchers studied an eruption that took place on Feb. 15, 2011. They found that sunquakes 1,000 times more powerful than the March 2011 Japanese earthquake were triggered at two ends of the erupting rope of magnetic field. The sudden expansion of the magnetic field as it erupts is thought to play a part in the generation of the sunquakes.

The eruption travelled through our solar system at around 600 kilometres per second (1.34 million miles per hour) towards Earth, causing a geomagnetic storm and aurora when it hit the Earth’s atmosphere.

It is for this reason that study of sunquakes is of interest, especially as solar activity is predicted to increase and peak in 2013.

“Sunquakes themselves do not have [an] impact on Earth as they are acoustic waves travelling inside the Sun. But flares and, accompanying them, Coronal Mass Ejections that we have shown play an important role in generating sunquakes, can and do impact Earth,” Zharkov said.

“Sunquakes now form an integral part for our search for understanding of flare and CME phenomena.”

Flares and CMEs have a direct impact on space weather, so understanding how they form could help in predicting when they are going to occur and planning for possible geomagnetic storms, which can affect satellites and radio and GPS equipment on Earth.

But sunquakes are relatively rare, explained Zharkhov. “Known sunquakes were all generated by string solar flares (X and M class), which occur only during the active part of an [11-year] Solar Cycle. However, only a small fraction of such flares produce sunquakes,” he said.

“There is also a chance, however, that sunquakes are more common than we think; it’s just that our means of detecting them are not yet up to scratch.”

Until recently, observation of sunquakes had been hampered by availability of data. “With the (relatively) new NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory satellite providing us with practically continuous high resolution and high cadence observations of the Sun, this problem is now solved,” Zharkov said.

Much like geologists use earthquakes to understand the internal structure of our planet, future research will be focused on using sunquakes to learn more about the internal processes of the Sun, said Zharkov. As scientists still don’t fully understand how sunquakes are generated, research will also continue to look for physical explanations of this solar phenomenon.

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Huge Sunquakes Triggered by Solar Eruptions | Space & Astronomy | Science | Epoch Times.

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Geomagnetic Storm to Enhance Northern Lights Today

By Vickie Frantz, AccuWeather.com Staff Writer
Jan 21, 2012; 8:54 AM ET

A photograph of the M-class solar flare eruption courtesy of NASA.gov.

A coronal mass ejection will hit Earth on Saturday as a geomagnetic storm.

A strong solar flare began erupting at 8:42 a.m. EST on Thursday, NASA reported. A coronal mass ejection associated with the flare is moving toward the earth at more than 630 miles per second. It will hit Earth sometime on Saturday.

A solar flare is an explosion that releases energy in the sun’s atmosphere. The energy released is equivalent to tens of millions of hydrogen bombs. A solar wind shock wave is released as a result of the explosion.

The solar wind shock wave will strike the Earth’s magnetic field. This causes a temporary disturbance of the Earth’s magnetosphere called a geomagnetic storm.

During the geomagnetic storm, there could be damage to Earth-orbiting satellites.

A geomagnetic storm caused a temporary loss of electricity in Quebec on March 13,1989. Nearly 6 million people were affected. The low temperature during the outage was 19 degrees and the high was only 34. The electricity was restored about nine hours later.

This type of damage in not common.

On a more positive note, geomagnetic storms are know to enhance the appearance of the Earth’s auroras. There will be an especially colorful display on Saturday.

via Geomagnetic Storm to Enhance Northern Lights Today.

Huge Coronal Mass Ejection Puts on Stunning Red Green Light Show Across USA

Posted on October 26, 2011 by altnewsreport

Re-posted courtesy of Spaceweather.comon 10.25.2011: Copyright 2011-3011 Chase Kyla Hunter & Alternative News Report, All Rights Reserved. Re-posts permitted leaving content, author, blog name, URL & copyright intact.

AURORAS IN THE USA: A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth on Oct. 24th at approximately 1800 UT (2:00 pm EDT). The impact strongly compressed Earth’s magnetic field, directly exposing geosynchronous satellites to solar wind plasma, and sparked an intense geomagnetic storm. As night fell over North America, auroras spilled across the Canadian border into the contiguous United States.


“Wow, wow, wow! These were the best Northern Lights I’ve seen since 2004,” says Shawn Malone, who took this picture from the shores of Lake Superior in Michigan:

“The auroras filled the sky in every direction–even to the south,” he says.

Indeed, the display spread all the way down to Arkansas. “When I saw the alert, I ran outside and immediately saw red auroras,” reports Brian Emfinger from the city of Ozark. “Within a few minutes the auroras went crazy! It was unbelievable.” Update: Emfinger has assembled a 2h 22m time-lapse movie of the display: 29 MB wmv.

Auroras were seen or photographed in more than half of all US states including Alabama, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Tennessee, Missouri, Illinois, Nebraska, Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Montana, Ohio, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Washington, Virginia, Texas, Arizona, Minnesota, Maine, Michigan, Oregon, Arkansas and California. Many observers, especially in the deep south, commented on the pure red color of the lights they saw. These rare all-red auroras sometimes appear during intense geomagnetic storms. They occur some 300 to 500 km above Earth’s surface and are not yet fully understood.

The storm is subsiding now. Nevertheless, high-latitude sky watchers should remain alert for auroras as Earth’s magnetic field continues to reverberate from the CME impact.

[…]

The INTEL HUB posted this interesting take on what happened:

Last night parts of the central and eastern United States witnessed eerie red and green lights which were apparently caused by a solar flare that blasted earth. Reports of a fireball/meteor were also received in parts of North and South Carolina as well as Georgia.

via Huge Coronal Mass Ejection Puts on Stunning Red Green Light Show Across USA | Alternative News Report.