A Massive sunspot
There is a massive sunspot on the Sun that will be turning towards our planet which could result in major strong flares. According to a report by spaceweather.com, the sunspot AR2770, which was deducted earlier this week is expected to grow in size. Few minor space flares have been emitted by this particular sunspot already which has not caused anything major other than “minor waves of ionization to ripple through Earth’s upper atmosphere”.
- However, this sunspot which can be up to 50,000 kilometres in diameter may release a huge amount of energy which in turn will lead to solar flares.
- These eruptions may lead to solar flares and storms. This phenomenon is called Coronal Mass Ejections (CME).
- These flares can have a major effect on radio communications, Global Positioning Systems (GPS) connectivity, power grids, and satellites.
- According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the CMEs can result in “fluctuations of electrical currents in space and energize electrons and protons trapped in Earth’s varying magnetic field”. Solar flares caused by these CMEs can also trigger intense light in the sky, called auroras.
What is a sunspot?
- A sunspot is a dark area on the sun that appears dark on the surface and relatively cooler than the other parts.
- These sunspots have electrically charged gases that generate areas of powerful magnetic forces.
- The gases on our sun are constantly moving which causes irregularities in this ‘magnetic field’.
- These activities are also called ‘solar activity’. The levels of solar activity don’t remain the same and differ from one solar cycle to another.
What is a solar flare?
- Solar flares are the result of changes in magnetic fields on the sunspots that cause a huge explosion.
- These solar flares are often released into space and its radiation can disrupt earth's radio communications.
- The solar flare explosion’s energy can be equivalent to a trillion ‘Little boy’ atomic bombs that was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
- Recently, scientists developed a new model that can successfully predict seven of the Sun’s biggest flares from the last solar cycle, out of a set of nine with the help of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.