There are a few good websites for up to date solar data. Being a ham radio operator I am among a community whose hobby is very dependent on what the Sun is doing. One of the best sites around is from a Canadian Amateur Radio Station VE3EN called SolarHam.
One active region at the edge of the Sun pushed out about ten thrusts of plasma in just over a day long period (July 9-10, 2016). All of them, propelled by magnetic forces, quickly withdrew back into the active region. The images were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.
Here is an image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory or SDO and we can see a large sunspot on the left side. Actually this sunspot is many-many times the size of Earth and is rotating left to right so in about a week will be directly facing us and that gives us a possibility of increased solar activity including a CME.
I’m not saying anything much will happen, just that the possibility exists – you never know there could be a great aurora coming.
This illustration lays a depiction of the sun’s magnetic fields over an image captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 12, 2016. The complex overlay of lines can teach scientists about the ways the sun’s magnetism changes in response to the constant movement on and inside the sun. Note how the magnetic fields are densest near the bright spots visible on the sun – which are magnetically strong active regions – and many of the field lines link one active region to another.
This magnetic map was created using the PFSS – Potential Field Source Surface – model, a model of the magnetic field in the sun’s atmosphere based on magnetic measurements of the solar surface. The underlying image was taken in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths of 171 angstroms. This type of light is invisible to our eyes, but is colorized here in gold.
Credits: NASA/SDO/AIA/LMSAL/Steele Hill and Sarah Frazier NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
The SDO description: Due to the geometry of Solar Dynamic Observatory’s orbit, there are periods when the spacecraft’s view of the Sun is blocked by the Earth and sometimes the Moon. Starting this earlier this week (video taken on Feb. 22, 2016) and for the next few weeks, the Earth will continue to get in the way once a day around 7:00 UT. This eclipse season occurs twice a year, near the equinoxes. The video covers about 15 minutes as the Sun is becoming unblocked again. The Sun was blocked for close to an hour. Such is life in space 22000 miles above Earth.
The Solar Dynamics Laboratory captured a filament breaking away from the Sun. The image shows the dark filament as it is breaking away. The video’s show the sequence of events, here is a link to the smaller of the two (the larger is at the link below).
A dark and almost circular filament broke away from the Sun in a gauzy, feathery swirl, followed by a second filament eruption that was below it (Nov. 15-16, 2015). Filaments are dark strands of plasma tethered above the Sun’s surface by magnetic forces that over time often become disrupted. The video clip taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, covers nine hours of activity. Solar astronomers had been watching and chatting about this almost circular filament for several days. The first eruption featured a sizable and mostly dark stream of plasma that twisted away into space.
A small, but complex mass of plasma gyrated and spun about over the course of 40 hours above the surface of the Sun (Sept. 1-3, 2015). It was stretched and pulled back and forth by powerful magnetic forces but not ripped apart in this sequence. The temperature of the ionized iron particles observed in this extreme ultraviolet wavelength of light was about 2.8 million degrees C. (or 5 million degrees F.)
Yesterday morning at 07:40 UT / 03:40 ET the Solar Dynamics Observatory took this image of a mid-level solar flare.
I found about the flare at a little after 08:00 / 04:00. The flare was an M 5.6 so I thought it might give us an aurora especially given the geometry. So I real quick fed the cat and dog and went charging outside looked up and saw a black sky and not a star in sight.
A beautiful arch forms on the Sun and is watched by the SDO.
From the SDO webpage: Magnetically charged particles formed a nicely symmetrical arch at the edge of the Sun as they followed the magnetic field lines of an active region (Aug.4-5, 2015). Before long the arch begins to fade, but a fainter and taller arch appears for a time in the same place. Note that several other bright active regions display similar kinds of loops above them. These images of ionized iron at about one million degrees were taken in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light.
The Solar Dynamics Observatory gives us this great view of a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the side of the Sun. The image is captured in the 304 Angstrom Wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light on 17 to 18 June 2015.
Had this CME been directed towards Earth there could have been impacts like those we always hear about, namely communication and power disruptions. The news media usually likes to tell us how bad things could be and sometimes we ignore what they say because, well, they always say it. The truth is all of that stuff could happen and be as bad as they like to say OR anywhere along a continuum between just a beautiful aurora and that doom and gloom scenario.
Being a ham radio operator I can tell you communications disruptions are not really uncommon in such events, they can be kind of fun too. Commercial communication problems would not be fun and we have been on the LUCKY side of things so far.
Anyway, enough rambling; there is a great video of this CME, a four hour period is represented.