I was just casually browsing when I came across a link about at recent solar flare. So I went to investigate at SpaceWeather. There it was stated:

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Looking further down the page it seem to say that there is only a 5% chance for being an X-flare.

enter image description here

With other words, quite unlikely, while using a somewhat obtuse language of "if current trends continue...could be...".

So my question is:

(a) How are these flares tracked after they've been detected?
(b) What other detector mechanisms do we have (if any) along the way, to detect the progress of such CME's?
(Preferably before they arrive here.)

Possibly related questions:


1 Answer 1


How are these flares tracked after they've been detected?

Since you already linked to https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/a/16786/13663, I won't belabor the differences between a solar flare and coronal mass ejection (CME). I will say that flares are short-lived phenomenon so they aren't really tracked so much as observed and their properties recorded.

They are observed by spacecraft such as the GOES spacecraft x-ray detectors or the UV detectors on SDO.

What other detector mechanisms do we have (if any) along the way, to detect the progress of such CME's?

We have remote radio sensors onboard spacecraft like Wind and STEREO that detect some types of radio bursts generated upstream of the shocks produced by CMEs. We have particle detectors on these spacecraft and others that can observe the shock-accelerated particles before the CME arrives at Earth. We also have Parker Solar Probe and Solar Orbiter that are closer to the Sun than Earth. These are rarely on the Earth-Sun line, however, and their data are not telemetered to ground in real-time. So they mostly provide after-the-fact observations of such phenomena.

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    $\begingroup$ Thank you, accepted. However, it seem that we have some serious holes in regard to any implemented warning systems, so I suppose we're lucky that our sun is still fairly well behaved. $\endgroup$
    – not2qubit
    Sep 1, 2021 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, but I am not in charge of funding so I have no control over that ;) $\endgroup$ Sep 1, 2021 at 14:48
  • $\begingroup$ There's also DSCOVR, that is located at L1 which would give us about 1 hr advance notice on CME's, according to that Wikipedia article. $\endgroup$
    – not2qubit
    Sep 3, 2021 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ Yes, I am well aware of DSCOVR as I work with its mission scientist and was officemates with the guy who calibrates the magnetometer and am good friends with the guy in charge of the Faraday cups. Unfortunately, I also know that DSCOVR suffers from a lot of problems. These largely result from it having "sat on mothballs" for a decade and then received minimal funding for retrofitting and updating before launch. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2021 at 12:33
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    $\begingroup$ As an aside, a really strong CME will get to Earth from L1 much faster than 1 hour and even when everything works perfectly, it still takes several minutes between the spacecraft observing something and a scientist or forecaster actually seeing the data on their screen. $\endgroup$ Sep 3, 2021 at 12:34

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