Friday, March 25, 2016

Space Weather News for March 25, 2016

Coronal Canyon Spews Solar Wind

HOLE IN THE SUN'S ATMOSPHERE:  A canyon-shaped hole in the sun's atmosphere has opened up and it is spewing solar wind toward Earth. Estimated time of arrival: March 27-28.  Arctic sky watchers should be alert for a springtime display of auroras.  Visit for more information.

 Above: This canyon-shaped coronal hole is spewing solar wind toward Earth

VERY QUIET SUN: Solar activity has returned to very low levels, and it is likely to remain so for the next few days. NOAA forecasters say there is no more than a 1% chance of strong flares on March 25-26-27. Solar flare alerts: text or voice
RADAR IMAGES OF EARTH-BUZZING COMET: On March 22nd, comet fragment P/2016 BA14 made the 3rd-closest approach to Earth of any comet in recorded history. NASA researchers took advantage of the comet's proximity and pinged its icy core using the Goldstone Solar System Radar in California's Mojave Desert. Newly released images reveal a 1-km wide strangely-shaped object spinning once every 35 to 40 hours:

"The comet has an irregular shape. It looks like a brick on one side and a pear on the other," says Shantanu Naidu, a postdoctoral researcher at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory who led the observations. "We can see quite a few signatures related to topographic features such as large flat regions, small concavities and ridges on the surface of the nucleus."

While the radar observations were underway, Vishnu Reddy of the Planetary Science Institute in Tucson, Arizona, also observed P/2016 BA14 using the Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. He found that the comet reflects less than 3 percent of the sunlight that falls on its surface. In other words, it was as dark as fresh asphalt. 

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