SPECTACULAR CME: Old sunspot AR2644 has returned--and it is still active. On April 18th at approximately 2000 UT, the sunspot's magnetic canopy exploded and hurled a bright coronal mass ejection (CME) into space. The ESA/NASA Solar and Heliophysics Observatory caught the cloud as it raced away from the sun:
This CME will probably miss Earth. The explosion's epicenter was too far off the Sun-Earth line for a direct hit. NOAA analysts are still evaluating the possibility of a glancing blow, however, so stay tuned for updates.
More CMEs may be in the offing. In early April this sunspot produced a series of strong M-class flares and shortwave radio blackouts on Earth. Geoeffective activity stopped only when the sunspot went into hiding on the farside of the sun. Two weeks later it's back, and it is turning toward Earth for a new round of solar activity.
Note: By longstanding tradition, sunspots that travel around the backside of the sun and re-appear are renumbered. AR2644 therefore has a new designation: AR2651. We will use both names in our coverage of this active region in the days ahead.