Solar Flare detected by GOES Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) telescope

October 28th, 2021 |

Sometimes space weather can be just as noteworthy as weather on Earth. There was an X1 solar flare on October 28, 2021, at 10:35AM CDT (15:35Z) detected by the GOES Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI). The GOES-16 and 17 satellites each house the SUVI, which is an extreme ultraviolet telescope that detects photons that are not detectable from the Earth’s surface.

This type of X1 solar flare event can affect Earth’s conditions. Today’s solar flare is associated with a “strong” R3 radio blackout in which high frequency radio communication can be impaired. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) is responsible for observing and forecasting flares. More information is available here.

The GOES-16 Solar Ultraviolet Imager (SUVI) detects a solar flare at 304 Å occurring at 15:35Z October 28, 2021.
The same flare from SUVI observed at 171 Å.

This SWPC site shows solar animations at various wavelengths and updates in real-time.

NOAA SWPC is also in charge of monitoring and forecasting aurora (the northern lights, aurora borealis, or southern lights, aurora australis). Aurora occur as a result of solar flare activity that releases energy into Earth’s magnetic field. NOAA Space Weather has issued a “G3” geomagnetic storm watch, predicting aurora visible as far south as Pennsylvania, Iowa, and Oregon through this Saturday October 30. More information on aurora and aurora forecasts can be found here.

To visualize different characteristics of the sun, CIMSS scientists have built a webapp tool called an “RGB maker” for SUVI data in which data at three different wavelengths are combined to create an image. You can find the tool here. (Note for users: select your red, green, and blue wavelengths and then combine channels. General users can ignore adjusting the scale and gamma factors.)

The SUVI RBG maker functions similarly to how traditional Red Green Blue satellite composites are created, only it combines from the six SUVI bands. Those band wavelengths are: 94 Å, 131 Å, 171 Å, 195 Å, 284 Å, and 304 Å. [One Å (pronounced Angstrom) is equal to 0.0001 microns or 1e-10 meters.] The table below lists the type of solar phenomena that are observable with each band.

Six wavelength bands detect solar phenomenon on SUVI. Space weather forecasters use this data to observe solar flares and monitor Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs), for example.

Here are some examples of solar RBG composites created with the CIMSS SUVI RGB maker.

A SUVI composite made with the CIMSS RGB maker combining channels 131 Å, 171 Å, and 195 Å.

A SUVI composite made with the CIMSS RGB maker combining channels 304 Å, 171 Å, and 195 Å.

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