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Space Weather

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Here are two fun websites that gives minute by minute space weather updates by using satellites to measure the solar wind, magnetic field, electron, proton and x-ray flux in the vicinity of the Earth.

After faithfully checking the sites every day for about the past two months through low solar activity I have been rewarded lately as some coronal holes have opened up on the sun, and the Earth is currently in the stream of hot, fast (500km/s!!) ions that are being fired at us from those holes. This means we get more exotic behavior in the Earth's magnetosphere, and also aurora events that can be observed from lower latitudes :huh:

It is really fun to watch the "movie" showing the recordings done by the satellite over the past 15 minutes:

From this page you can click South/North Hemi Movie to watch how the aurora has been changing in response to this:

One of my favorite movies to watch is this:

It was an unusually intense solar flare that happened in July 14th, 2000. You can notice that about 15 minutes after the flare the ions released slam into the satellite and make the image go fuzzy. And if you look carefully it appears that several parts of the sun flicker simultaneously. Solar flares are usually associated with intense solar magnetic field activity, and there are theories explaining their occurrence based on ideas of how the sun's magnetic field lines can get twisted and contorted, pierce through the surface, and other times "snap" and "reconnect".

Soon afterwards a "full-halo" coronal mass ejection occurred:

Here is the article where they talk about this event and how it interacts with the geomagnetic field:

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