Solar Cycle 25 Releases its First Big CME
By Cap Allon
“AR2786” was already a big sunspot, but it has just grown even bigger with the addition of multiple trailer spots behind the primary dark core:
C-class solar flares are likely on Nov. 26 as the sunspot continues to develop, risking further electrical disturbances and radio blackouts here on Earth–such as occurred during the late hours of Nov. 23 (23:35 UT), when AR2785 produced a C4-class solar flare that hurled a plume of plasma more than 350,000 km across the sun, which led to a pulse of ultraviolet radiation hitting Earth, briefly ionizing the top of our atmosphere. This, in turn, caused a shortwave radio blackout over the South Pacific, including eastern Australia and all of New Zealand.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded the violent Nov. 23 explosion:
More solar flares are in the offing.
Three of the biggest sunspots of young Solar Cycle 25 (AR2783, AR2785, and AR2786) are either facing Earth or turning in our direction. Each poses a significant threat for further C-class flares (like the one shown above) and even stronger M-flares.
For reference, NASA classifies solar flares according to their strength: the smallest are A-class, followed by B, C, M and X, the largest.
First Big CME
During this general increase in activity, the Sun also released its biggest coronal mass ejection (CME) of the new solar cycle so far, on Nov 24.
Fortunately, this titanic eruption (shown below) came off the far side of the Sun, meaning it won’t result in any big geomagnetic storms here on Earth.
The 1st halo CME seen by SOHO in a while! (a CME is a ‘halo’ when it encompasses the whole solar disc in coronagraph imagery) ☀️💨
Unfortunately, its direction in STEREO-A beacon data clearly indicates that the CME erupted from the far side of the Sun, so it’s not Earth-directed. pic.twitter.com/wKbvgK027H
— Erika Palmerio (@erikapal) November 25, 2020
Looking forward though, the newly formed cluster of trailer spots behind the primary dark core is something of a concern, particularly given the timing of their materialization: just as the magnetic region crosses the Earth-facing disc.
If an M-class flare (or worse) were to be fired in our direction, the implications could prove somewhat problematic, to say the least. Such a powerful outburst would be more than capable of knocking-out localized electrical grids, just as occurred in Quebec in 1989 (more on that linked below).
One more factor to consider, the risks are even greater today given the ongoing waning of Earth’s magnetic field due to an intensifying GSM and Pole Shift (more on that, too, linked below).