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X-Flare After X-Flare After X-Flare

Exploding like popcorn, sunspot AR3664 (a.k.a. AR3697) produced three X-flares on May 31st and June 1st. The third, a long-duration X1-class event, apparently produced a vivid halo CME.

Although the timing of the CME seems to be a perfect match for one of the X-flares, forecasters have noted a lack of extreme UV wave activity on the solar surface that normally accompanies the launch of a CME. Could this be a big coincidence? Analyses are underway.

Sunspot AR3664 has been decaying for days. What makes it so active? This magnetic map provides the answer:

Within the sunspot's primary core, two oppositely-signed magnetic poles are crowded together, + vs. -. When this happens, magnetic recombination can cause very powerful explosions even from a sunspot that's falling apart. NOAA forecasters estimate a 35% chance of X-flares and a 75% chance of M-flares on June 1st.


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