The sun is going through a rather active period at the moment ahead of the peak of its 11-year cycle that will come next year. This month has already seen quite a few instances of ejected solar matter with coronal mass ejections, prominences and flares all making appearances.
The sun goes through an eleven-year cycle of activity, driven by internal processes and interactions of its electromagnetic field. The current cycle is cycle 24, expected to peak in May 2013 at a lower level of activity compared to the previous cycle. The sun’s cycle affects the amount of radiation it puts out and hence temperature here on Earth as solar radiation is the main driver of weather patterns.
Regardless, its been a pretty spectacular month so far.
A coronal mass ejection hit the Earth’s magnetic field on October 8th resulting in a great light show in Northern lattitudes. Hugo Løhre snapped this photo of the auroras over Lekangsund, Norway, on Oct. 10, 2012.
On October 19th at around 0415EDT this image of a solar prominence was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.
The day after, an M9-class solar flare was released at about 0214EDT. M9 class flares are relatively low powered compared to flares that the Sun is capable of putting out, but is still at the upper end of the M part of the scale, enough to cause minor disruption to electronic transmissions from GPS satellites and communications.
This article composed of releases from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.