Image Courtesy of THEREALPAX via YouTube

A massive sunspot that has doubled in size in just 24 hours is currently facing Earth, potentially causing a solar outburst.

Sunspots are characterized by circular or planet-sized patches on the Sun’s surface. Their size differs by region, with some being smaller or larger than others. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Solar Dynamics Observatory is tracking the sunspot AR3038 (NASA).

What Are Sunspots?

  • Sunspots are black spots on the surface of the sun that are associated with powerful bursts of radiation.
  • They seem darker than other sections of the sun’s surface because they are cooler.
  • Sunspots are chilly because they grow over locations where the magnetic fields of the sun are extremely strong, preventing some of the sun’s heat from reaching its surface.
  • Magnetic fields can reconfigure themselves unexpectedly. When this happens, a solar flare occurs, which is a quick explosion of light and radiation propelled out from the sun.

Solar Flare

The Sun is a fiery ball of gas, and its underlying layers are made up of magnetic field lines that frequently cross one another, similar to how strings entangle.

  • A solar flare is defined as a sudden explosion of energy, according to NASA. Solar flares are one of two main types of solar storms, with coronal mass ejections being the other (CMEs).
  • Both space storms unleash tremendous solar radiation or high-energy particles into space, although their mode of explosion differs.

NASA

Image Courtesy of NASA via YouTube
  • AR3038 is the name of a sunspot that has lately grown in size.
  • On Sunday, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory captured footage of the sunspot twisting and contorting during the previous day.
  • Because of the sunspot’s magnetic field, an M-class solar flare, the second-strongest type, might be sent at Earth. It is unclear whether or not this will be the case.
    • An M-class flare, on the other hand, would almost certainly be worthless in any situation. M-class flares, despite being the second-strongest type of solar flare, are only known to cause minor radio blackouts.
    • An M9 flare, the most powerful of the M-class, could disrupt radio communications for tens of minutes in afflicted portions of the Earth, as well as degrade low-frequency navigation signals. Flares of the M-class are also common.

SWPC

Image Courtesy of KidSpace Launch via YouTube
  • The Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had not issued any solar flare alerts as of Monday morning.
  • These particles could manifest themselves as one or more of the Space Weather Prediction Center’s space weather event types.
    1. Radio Blackouts
    2. Geomagnetic storms
    3. Solar radiation storms

Massive Sunspot Has Doubled In Size in 24 Hours

In just 24 hours, the rapidly expanding sunspot has doubled in size. Solar flares can impair radio communication networks and navigation systems on Earth if they are powerful enough. People who work in the sea or aviation industries, for example, may be affected.

Risks This May Cause

  • The biggest danger is electrical transformers. Over a few hours, the flare pulls Earth’s magnetic field, causing DC currents through long transmission lines. These currents overload utility transformers, causing their cores to overheat. There would be extensive power outages worldwide if the utilities detect the overheating and shut down as needed.
  • We’ll have to fix or replace a large number of transformers, which can take months to order. This is a major financial issue. Of course, backup power would be limited for transformer makers and maintenance shops, as well as their suppliers. Diesel fuel suppliers would agree.
  • There is also a significant impact of solar flares on the Earth’s ionosphere. Disturbances in the ionosphere have an impact on the lower layers of the atmosphere and influence the movement of air masses, resulting in weather changes and climate change.
  • These events affect the magnetosphere, a layer of the Earth’s atmosphere that protects humans from solar storms, solar radiation, cosmic particle radiation, and solar winds.
  • Magnetic storms and radio blackouts that strike the magnetosphere directly disrupt satellite and radio equipment, primarily signal and communication.
  • Solar radiation storms, on the other hand, primarily harm biological species, such as animals and people.
  • One of the many repercussions of solar radiation’s harm to people is sunburn.
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