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Solar storm warning: Unstable sunspots could hurl out X-class solar flares today, NASA says

NASA has revealed that the effects of rising solar activity are now being seen again as multiple sunspots possess energy for solar flares that can spark a solar storm. Know all about this upcoming solar storm today.

Updated on: Jan 05 2024, 11:55 IST
A solar storm could be sparked as a result of X-class solar flares expected to hit Earth today, NASA says. Check details. (Unsplash)

Even though we’re just 4 days into 2024, we’ve seen already seen several strong solar flares hurled out towards Earth, sparking a solar storm. On December 31, the Sun hurled out an X-class solar flare that hit Earth just a few days ago, and it is still causing radio blackouts in the polar regions. The Sun has been showing all its might for the past couple of months and as we approach the solar maximum that will likely occur in 2024-25, its wrath is only expected to increase. NASA has revealed that the effects of this rising solar activity are now being seen again as multiple sunspots possess energy for solar flares that can spark a solar storm. Know all about this upcoming solar storm today.

Solar storm today

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), only 4 numbered sunspots have been observed on the Sun. however, all of them have unstable beta-gamma' magnetic fields. These sunspots harbour energy for solar flares. After studying the data collected by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), NASA says that there is a 40 percent chance of M-class solar flares today, January 5.

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However, that is not the only danger faced by Earth today. The report further states that there is a 15 percent chance that X-class solar flares could be hurled out towards the planet too. But why is it dangerous? For the unaware, X-class solar flares are the most intense flares which can result in long-lasting radiation storms. If the X-class flares are too strong, they can result in loops that are ten times as big as Earth which leaps off the Sun’s surface as the magnetic fields cross over, according to NASA. When these loops reconnect, they can produce as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs!

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 If the solar flare does indeed impact Earth, it will be the third X-class flare striking the planet within a month. 

On December 14, an X2.8 solar flare was hurled out by sunspot AR3514. Interestingly, the same sunspot also hurled out another X5.0 solar flare on December 31, sparking a solar storm. It was the strongest solar flare seen since 2017.

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First Published Date: 05 Jan, 11:55 IST