Space Weather Update: 11/23/2016
By Spaceweather.com, 11/23/2016
SEE THE AURORAS LIVE: Bright green auroras are dancing above Sweden right now in response to the solar wind stream described below. The light show is being broadcast in realtime on an Abisko National Park webcam. Watch it!
ENTERING THE SOLAR WIND STREAM: As predicted, today Earth is entering a stream of high-speed solar wind. First contact with the gaseous material sparked bright green auroras over Iceland. “We saw them through gaps in some nice lenticular clouds,” reports Olivier Staiger, who sends this picture from the Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon:
“The auroras were nice and bright and wide–mostly green with a fring of pink,” says Saiger.
The solar wind stream responsible for this display may be here for a while. Flowing from a large hole in the sun’s atmosphere, the stream is broad and should take several days to cross. Arctic auroras are possible from now until at least Nov. 25th. Free: Aurora Alerts
A SUNSPOT AROUND THE BEND: For the past two days, the face of the sun has been blank–no sunspots. This is a sign that the sunspot cycle is crashing. Crash postponed: a new sunspot is emerging over the sun’s northeastern limb. Its towering magnetic canopy appeared yesterday in this extreme ultraviolet image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:
Play the movie. There is unrest in the sunspot’s magnetic field. Could a solar flare be in the offing? As the sunspot emerges and turns toward Earth in the days ahead, we will get a better view of its underlying dark core and be able to determine its potential for explosions. If this new sunspot is anything like other recent sunspots, however, strong flares are unlikely. NOAA forecasters say there is no more than a 1% chance of flares on Nov. 23rd.
A FAR OUT STOCKING STUFFER: It’s out of this world: the Sirius Space Pendant. To raise money for their space weather ballooning program, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus have flown 3 dozen pendants to the edge of space–and you can have one for $69.95. The pendant comes with a greeting card showing the jewelry in flight and certifying that it has been to the stratosphere and back again.
The pendants flew to the edge of space on Nov. 20, 2016, alongside an array of cosmic radiation sensors. (We’re reducing the data now!) After the balloon exploded, the payload parachuted back to Earth, landing in the snowy San Antonio mountains north of Tonopah, Nevada, where a student team recovered it on Nov. 22nd.
The research of Earth to Sky Calculus is not supported by government grants or corporate donations. Instead, we are entirely crowd-funded. Proceeds from the sale of items like the Sirius Pendant go right back into cutting-edge student research. More edge of space Christmas gifts may be found in the Earth to Sky Store.
All Sky Fireball Network
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth’s atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.
On Nov. 22, 2016, the network reported 61 fireballs.
(43 sporadics, 10 Leonids, 4 Northern Taurids, 2 omicron Eridanids, 2 alpha Monocerotids)
In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point–Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]
Near Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On November 23, 2016 there were 1738 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:Asteroid
Notes: LD means “Lunar Distance.” 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere
Readers, thank you for your patience while we continue to develop this new section of Spaceweather.com. We’ve been working to streamline our data reduction, allowing us to post results from balloon flights much more rapidly, and we have developed a new data product, shown here:
This plot displays radiation measurements not only in the stratosphere, but also at aviation altitudes. Dose rates are expessed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x. These measurements are made by our usual cosmic ray payload as it passes through aviation altitudes en route to the stratosphere over California.
What is this all about? Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly “down to Earth” form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 12% since 2015:
Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth’s magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.
The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.
The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth’s atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.
speed: 419.7 km/sec
density: 6.1 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2119 UTX-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: B2 1501 UT Nov23
24-hr: B6 0010 UT Nov23
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2100 UTDaily Sun: 23 Nov 16A moderately large sunspot is rotating into view over the sun’s northeastern limb, breaking a string of two spotless days. Credit: SDO/HMI
Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 23 Nov 2016
Current Stretch: 0 days
2016 total: 25 days (7%)
2015 total: 0 days (0%)
2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
Updated 23 Nov 2016
Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/OvationPlanetary K-index
Now: Kp= 3 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4 unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 6.6 nT
Bz: 0.8 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2117 UTCoronal Holes: 23 Nov 16
Earth is entering a stream of solar wind flowing from this large coronal hole. Credit: NASA/SDO.Noctilucent Clouds NASA’s AIM spacecraft has suffered an anomaly, and a software patch is required to fix it. As a result, noctilucent cloud images will not return until further notice. AIM science team members are optimistic that the
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, PolarUpdated at: 08-06-2016 16:55:02
Updated at: 2016 Nov 22 2200 UTC
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth’s magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe stormUpdated at: 2016 Nov 22 2200 UTCMid-latitudes