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Space Weather Alert - 14th May 2019

What Has Happened?

Coronagraph image showing the CME on 10th Sep



At present, the Earth is in the wake of magnetic storm conditions, caused by the unexpectedly early arrival of the first of a series of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) that have left the Sun since 11 May. Storm conditions could recur or even worsen overnight, potentially causing displays of aurora at higher latitude areas, for example the north of Scotland.

The arrival of the first of the remaining CMEs is expected late on 15 May or during 16 May. As the Earth's magnetic field is likely to be in an already perturbed state, it is expected that this arrival will result in further magnetic storm conditions on the evening of 16 May.

Two further CMEs left the Sun on the 13th are expected to arrive either late on 16 May or early on 17 May. As with the previous CMEs, these originated from a central location on the solar disc and so are likely to have a significant Earth-directed component and lead to further geomagnetic storms.

Assuming clear dark skies there is an increased chance of seeing the aurora over the next three nights, should conditions creep up into the STORM G1 or G2 categories (on the NOAA geomagnetic activity scale).


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The British Geological Survey is one of the Natural Environment Research Council's Research Centres.

CME or Coronal Mass Ejection
The eruption of a portion of the outer atmosphere of the Sun into space, caused by rapid changes in its magnetic field. Often occurs along with a solar flare.

Solar Flare
Energy released by the explosive reorganisation of magnetic fields within the Sun's atmosphere.

The variation, minute by minute, of the strength and direction of the Earth’s magnetic field. Measured in units of nano-Tesla (for the strength of the field) or in degrees (direction of the field).

Solar Wind
The ever-present expansion of the Sun’s hot outer atmosphere into the solar system, which carries space weather within it.

Sunspot/Active Region
A region of intense magnetic field in the Sun's visible outer atmosphere often associated with flares and CMEs.