There was a big eruption on the Sun late on Wednesday afternoon sending a large Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) straight towards the Earth and also producing a bright solar flare. The solar flare caused a radio blackout over the UK. This was detected by STFC’s ionospheric measurements, but these showed only a small event as the Sun was by then low in the sky. We are not aware of any problems caused by this blackout. At the time of writing the CME is still travelling towards Earth and is expected to arrive around midday today (Friday 12th September).
Professor Mike Hapgood, Head of the Space Environment Group at STFC’s RAL Space said “Several space-based telescopes show that a CME is heading directly towards Earth, but only at a modest speed so it will take best part of two days to reach us. This speed means we expect only minor problems from space weather, but that we may have a good show of the aurora over the north of the UK. We wait to see if the CME’s magnetic field will allow this, but we won’t know that until it crosses NASA’s ACE spacecraft 25 minutes before it arrives at Earth.”
This event highlights the vital importance of the satellites that allows us to detect CMEs travelling towards the Earth. STFC/RAL Space is working with Met Office, as well as other partners in the UK, rest of Europe and the US to develop and promote plans to replace these aging satellites and to equip them with modern instruments that are specifically designed to facilitate space weather forecasting.
You can get more information on the event, on the Space Weather prediction Centre site http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/index.html (link opens in a new window). Have your say on what space weather means to you at http://talkspaceweather.com/ (link opens in a new window) and join in the conversation.
For more information please contact: RAL Space Enquiries