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SpaceWeather.com -- News and information about meteor showers, solar flares, auroras, and near-Earth asteroids
 
Solar wind
speed: 452.0 km/sec
density: 7.9 protons/cm3
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2346 UT
X-ray Solar Flares
6-hr max: A2
2141 UT Nov06
24-hr: A2
1053 UT Nov06
explanation | more data
Updated: Today at: 2300 UT
Daily Sun: 06 Nov 18
The sun is blank--no sunspots. Credit: SDO/HMI

Sunspot number: 0
What is the sunspot number?
Updated 06 Nov 2018

Spotless Days
Current Stretch: 19 days
2018 total: 185 days (60%)
2017 total: 104 days (28%)
2016 total: 32 days (9%)
2015 total: 0 days (0%)
2014 total: 1 day (<1%)
2013 total: 0 days (0%)
2012 total: 0 days (0%)
2011 total: 2 days (<1%)
2010 total: 51 days (14%)
2009 total: 260 days (71%)
2008 total: 268 days (73%)
2007 total: 152 days (42%)
2006 total: 70 days (19%)

Updated 06 Nov 2018


Thermosphere Climate Index
today: 4.49
x1010 W Cold
Max: 49.4
x1010 W Hot (10/1957)
Min: 2.05
x1010 W Cold (02/2009)
explanation | more data
Updated 06 Nov 2018

The Radio Sun
10.7 cm flux: 68 sfu
explanation | more data
Updated 06 Nov 2018

Current Auroral Oval:
Switch to: Europe, USA, New Zealand, Antarctica
Credit: NOAA/Ovation
Planetary K-index
Now: Kp= 1 quiet
24-hr max: Kp= 4
unsettled
explanation | more data
Interplanetary Mag. Field
Btotal: 4.2 nT
Bz: -0.5 nT south
more data: ACE, DSCOVR
Updated: Today at 2345 UT
Coronal Holes: 06 Nov 18

Solar wind flowing from this coronal hole will reach Earth on Nov. 10-11. Credit: SDO/AIA
Noctilucent Clouds The season for noctilucent clouds (NLCs) in the northern hemisphere has come to an end. Images from NASA's AIM spacecraft show no NLCs around the north pole.
Switch view: Europe, USA, Asia, Polar
Updated at: 09-03-2018 14:55:02
SPACE WEATHER
NOAA Forecasts
Updated at: 2018 Nov 06 2200 UTC
FLARE
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
CLASS M
01 %
01 %
CLASS X
01 %
01 %
Geomagnetic Storms:
Probabilities for significant disturbances in Earth's magnetic field are given for three activity levels: active, minor storm, severe storm
Updated at: 2018 Nov 06 2200 UTC
Mid-latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
20 %
10 %
MINOR
05 %
01 %
SEVERE
01 %
01 %
High latitudes
0-24 hr
24-48 hr
ACTIVE
15 %
15 %
MINOR
25 %
20 %
SEVERE
30 %
15 %
 
Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018
What's up in space
       
 

Lights Over Lapland has a brand-new website full of exciting adventures in Abisko National Park, Sweden! Take a look at our aurora activities and book your once-in-a-lifetime trip with us today!

 

THE NEXT GEOMAGNETIC STORM: Another large hole in the sun's atmosphere is turning toward Earth, spewing a stream of solar wind that should reach our planet on Nov. 10th or 11th. A similar stream sparked a G2-class geomagnetic storm and auroras visible from the USA on Nov. 4-5. Free: Aurora Alerts.

DID AN ALIEN LIGHT SAIL VISIT THE SOLAR SYSTEM?: It sounds like a tabloid headline, but in this case it could be real. Mainstream researchers from the Harvard Center for Astrophysics have made the case that interstellar asteroid 'Oumuamua could in fact be an alien light sail. Their original research was posted Oct. 31st on the moderated preprint server arXiv.org.

The story of 'Oumuamua begins in October 2017 when it was discovered by Robert Weryk using the Pan-STARRS telescope atop Hawaii's Haleakalā volcano. Astronomers quickly realized that 'Oumuamua was something special: The object was hurtling through the Solar System on an unbound "hyperbolic" orbit. It came from the stars. Dramatic changes in the object's brightness suggested that it was tumbling and asymmetric–thin and wide like a cigar or perhaps a pancake.


Above: This artist's concept shows how 'Oumuamua is usually depicted: as a cigar-shaped asteroid.

On its way out of the Solar System, something unexpected happened. 'Oumuamua accelerated as if jets of gas were pushing it forward. Astronomers who initially thought 'Oumuamua was an asteroid now turned their attention to the comet hypothesis. Comets naturally develop jets after close approaches to the sun, and such jets could explain 'Oumuamua's behavior.

Just one problem: "Despite its close Solar approach of only 0.25 AU (inside the orbit of Mercury), 'Oumuamua shows no sign of any cometary activity, no cometary tail, nor gas emission/absorption lines," point out the Harvard researchers Shmuel Baily and Abraham Loeb. Moreover, "if outgassing was responsible for the acceleration, then the associated torques would have driven a rapid evolution in 'Oumuamua's spin, incompatible with observations."

So if it's not an asteroid, and it's not a comet, what could it be? Loeb, who is the chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University and also chairs the advisory board for the Breakthrough Starshot light sail project, realized that the acceleration profile was key. The non-gravitational acceleration of 'Oumuamua scaled with distance from the sun (r) as r-2 — just like a light sail would behave.


Above: The comet hypothesis. Credit: NASA/JPL [more]

Modeling 'Oumuamua as a thin object pushed by solar radiation pressure, Baily and Loeb found that it would fit the observations if it were a sheet of material 0.3 mm to 0.9 mm in thickness with a mass surface density of ~0.1 grams per square cm. "Although extremely thin, such an object would survive an interstellar travel over Galactic distances of  about 5 kiloparsecs, withstanding collisions with gas and dust-grains as well as stresses from rotation and tidal forces," they wrote.

The researchers are now calling for more observations to look for 'Oumuamua-like visitors to the Solar System. "A survey for lightsails as technosignatures in the Solar System is warranted, irrespective of whether 'Oumuamua is one of them," they conclude.

Although technical, Baily and Loeb's paper is well written and unusually readable for nonspecialists. Check it out.

Realtime Space Weather Photo Gallery

CRYSTAL STARSHIP ENTERPRISE: Last month, the students of Earth to Sky Calculus launched the starship Enterprise to the stratosphere. Riding onboard a high-altitude cosmic ray balloon, the laser-etched crystal spaceship traveled 34.7 km (113,845 feet) above Earth's surface:

You can have it for $149.95. The students are selling the Enterprise to support their cosmic ray ballooning program. Each starship comes with a greeting card showing the item in flight and telling the story of its journey to the edge of space. Also included is a multi-colored LED illuminated stand (shown in the picture above). This creates a colorful visual effect and allows the Enterprise to be used as a far-out night light.

Far Out Gifts: Earth to Sky Store
All sales support hands-on STEM education


Realtime Aurora Photo Gallery

  All Sky Fireball Network
Every night, a network of NASA all-sky cameras scans the skies above the United States for meteoritic fireballs. Automated software maintained by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office calculates their orbits, velocity, penetration depth in Earth's atmosphere and many other characteristics. Daily results are presented here on Spaceweather.com.

On Nov. 6, 2018, the network reported 43 fireballs.
(34 sporadics, 9 Northern Taurids)

In this diagram of the inner solar system, all of the fireball orbits intersect at a single point--Earth. The orbits are color-coded by velocity, from slow (red) to fast (blue). [Larger image] [movies]

  Near Earth Asteroids
Potentially Hazardous Asteroids (PHAs) are space rocks larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time.
On November 6, 2018 there were 1936 potentially hazardous asteroids.
Recent & Upcoming Earth-asteroid encounters:
Asteroid
Date(UT)
Miss Distance
Velocity (km/s)
Diameter (m)
2018 VL
2018-Oct-31
1.5 LD
7.9
11
2018 VB
2018-Nov-02
5.7 LD
8.9
23
2018 UD3
2018-Nov-02
1.6 LD
7.3
21
2018 VP1
2018-Nov-02
0.4 LD
9.8
3
2018 VT
2018-Nov-02
9 LD
12
14
2018 VG
2018-Nov-03
1.2 LD
7.6
13
2018 VA1
2018-Nov-04
7.6 LD
7.8
15
2018 UY1
2018-Nov-04
7.5 LD
8.3
54
2002 VE68
2018-Nov-04
14.7 LD
8.6
282
2018 TF3
2018-Nov-05
7.8 LD
20.6
306
2018 VW
2018-Nov-06
15.4 LD
13
63
2018 VN1
2018-Nov-06
8.7 LD
5.2
21
2010 VQ
2018-Nov-07
15.6 LD
3.8
10
2018 VS1
2018-Nov-10
3.6 LD
10.6
17
2018 VR1
2018-Nov-10
13.2 LD
9.3
18
2018 UQ1
2018-Nov-13
9.4 LD
12.3
148
2018 VK1
2018-Nov-14
10.2 LD
2.3
12
2007 UL12
2018-Nov-15
16.4 LD
25.8
235
2009 WB105
2018-Nov-25
15.2 LD
18.9
71
2008 WD14
2018-Nov-27
7.4 LD
9.3
93
2001 WO15
2018-Nov-28
13.6 LD
11.7
107
2018 TG6
2018-Dec-02
3.9 LD
1.4
12
2013 VX4
2018-Dec-09
4.1 LD
6.6
65
2015 XX169
2018-Dec-13
17 LD
5.8
12
2017 XQ60
2018-Dec-21
11.3 LD
15.6
47
163899
2018-Dec-22
7.4 LD
6.2
1232
418849
2018-Dec-23
16.6 LD
17.6
269
2014 AD16
2019-Jan-04
12.9 LD
9.4
12
Notes: LD means "Lunar Distance." 1 LD = 384,401 km, the distance between Earth and the Moon. 1 LD also equals 0.00256 AU. MAG is the visual magnitude of the asteroid on the date of closest approach.
  Cosmic Rays in the Atmosphere

SOMETHING NEW! We have developed a new predictive model of aviation radiation. It's called E-RAD--short for Empirical RADiation model. We are constantly flying radiation sensors onboard airplanes over the US and and around the world, so far collecting more than 22,000 gps-tagged radiation measurements. Using this unique dataset, we can predict the dosage on any flight over the USA with an error no worse than 15%.

E-RAD lets us do something new: Every day we monitor approximately 1400 flights criss-crossing the 10 busiest routes in the continental USA. Typically, this includes more than 80,000 passengers per day. E-RAD calculates the radiation exposure for every single flight.

The Hot Flights Table is a daily summary of these calculations. It shows the 5 charter flights with the highest dose rates; the 5 commercial flights with the highest dose rates; 5 commercial flights with near-average dose rates; and the 5 commercial flights with the lowest dose rates. Passengers typically experience dose rates that are 20 to 70 times higher than natural radiation at sea level.

To measure radiation on airplanes, we use the same sensors we fly to the stratosphere onboard Earth to Sky Calculus cosmic ray balloons: neutron bubble chambers and X-ray/gamma-ray Geiger tubes sensitive to energies between 10 keV and 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Column definitions: (1) The flight number; (2) The maximum dose rate during the flight, expressed in units of natural radiation at sea level; (3) The maximum altitude of the plane in feet above sea level; (4) Departure city; (5) Arrival city; (6) Duration of the flight.

SPACE WEATHER BALLOON DATA: Approximately once a week, Spaceweather.com and the students of Earth to Sky Calculus fly space weather balloons to the stratosphere over California. These balloons are equipped with radiation sensors that detect cosmic rays, a surprisingly "down to Earth" form of space weather. Cosmic rays can seed clouds, trigger lightning, and penetrate commercial airplanes. Furthermore, there are studies ( #1, #2, #3, #4) linking cosmic rays with cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death in the general population. Our latest measurements show that cosmic rays are intensifying, with an increase of more than 18% since 2015:

The data points in the graph above correspond to the peak of the Reneger-Pfotzer maximum, which lies about 67,000 feet above central California. When cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere, they produce a spray of secondary particles that is most intense at the entrance to the stratosphere. Physicists Eric Reneger and Georg Pfotzer discovered the maximum using balloons in the 1930s and it is what we are measuring today.

En route to the stratosphere, our sensors also pass through aviation altitudes:

In this plot, dose rates are expessed as multiples of sea level. For instance, we see that boarding a plane that flies at 25,000 feet exposes passengers to dose rates ~10x higher than sea level. At 40,000 feet, the multiplier is closer to 50x.

The radiation sensors onboard our helium balloons detect X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray machines and airport security scanners.

Why are cosmic rays intensifying? The main reason is the sun. Solar storm clouds such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) sweep aside cosmic rays when they pass by Earth. During Solar Maximum, CMEs are abundant and cosmic rays are held at bay. Now, however, the solar cycle is swinging toward Solar Minimum, allowing cosmic rays to return. Another reason could be the weakening of Earth's magnetic field, which helps protect us from deep-space radiation.

  Essential web links
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
  The official U.S. government space weather bureau
Atmospheric Optics
  The first place to look for information about sundogs, pillars, rainbows and related phenomena.
Solar Dynamics Observatory
  Researchers call it a "Hubble for the sun." SDO is the most advanced solar observatory ever.
STEREO
  3D views of the sun from NASA's Solar and Terrestrial Relations Observatory
Solar and Heliospheric Observatory
  Realtime and archival images of the Sun from SOHO.
Daily Sunspot Summaries
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
NOAA 27-Day Space Weather Forecasts
  fun to read, but should be taken with a grain of salt! Forecasts looking ahead more than a few days are often wrong.
Aurora 30 min forecast
  from the NOAA Space Environment Center
Heliophysics
  the underlying science of space weather
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