AOSS Prof. Tamas Gombosi's comments on solar storms and the challenges facing space weather forecasters with predicting CME behavior using current technology were published recently in Scientific American. (Short-Circuiting Civilization: Predicting the Disruptive Potential of a Solar Storm Is More Art Than Science by Saswato R. Das).
"Solar storms propagate like a bullet. Sometimes the bullets miss the Earth. When the CME's magnetic field has a big southward component, there is a high probability of reconnection," Gombosi explains. "On the other hand, if there is a high northward component, there is a low probability of reconnection."
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Flares and Solar Storms Galore
The Sun erupted with numerous M-class (medium) flares over a four-day period (July 2-6, 2012), sending substantial, bulbous clouds of particles into space. In this combination of the Sun, seen in extreme UV light by SDO, and its corona, observed by SOHO's C2 coronagraph, we can watch both the activity near the surface and the resultant clouds as they are propelled into space. The powerful Active Region 1515 has been the major producer of these storms and it is likely not done yet.