7 sunspots are staring at Earth right now; scary solar storm WARNING?

As per NOAA data, seven large sunspots are currently active on the Earth-facing side of the Sun. Can this be another solar storm warning?

| Updated on: Apr 14 2023, 09:45 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
1/5 The Sun is the largest object in our solar system and is a 4.5 billion-year-old star – a hot glowing ball of hydrogen and helium at the center of the solar system. It is about 93 million miles (150 million kilometers) from Earth, and without its energy, life as we know it could not exist here on our home planet. (Pixabay)
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2/5 The Sun’s volume would need 1.3 million Earths to fill it. Its gravity holds the solar system together, keeping everything from the biggest planets to the smallest bits of debris in orbit around it. The hottest part of the Sun is its core, where temperatures top 27 million degrees Fahrenheit (15 million degrees Celsius). The Sun’s activity, from its powerful eruptions to the steady stream of charged particles it sends out, influences the nature of space throughout the solar system. (NASA)
3/5 According to NASA, measuring a “day” on the Sun is complicated because of the way it rotates. It doesn't spin as a single, solid ball. This is because the Sun’s surface isn't solid like Earth's. Instead, the Sun is made of super-hot, electrically charged gas called plasma. This plasma rotates at different speeds on different parts of the Sun. At its equator, the Sun completes one rotation in 25 Earth days. At its poles, the Sun rotates once on its axis every 36 Earth days. (NASA)
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4/5 Above the Sun’s surface are its thin chromosphere and the huge corona (crown). This is where we see features such as solar prominences, flares, and coronal mass ejections. The latter two are giant explosions of energy and particles that can reach Earth. (Pixabay)
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5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
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Know all about the possible solar storm that can strike the Earth in near future. (Pixabay)

Quite weirdly, solar disturbances this week have been missing. At the beginning of the week, we were expecting a glancing blow from a coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud, which failed to hit. And apart from an M-class solar flare eruption, the sunspots have also been relatively stable. But this state of affairs is set to quickly change. There are as many as seven sunspot groups active on the Earth-facing side of the Sun. This is a pretty high number and if any of them turns unstable, it could mean another round of terrifying solar storm onslaught in an increasingly intensifying and volatile solar cycle. Check all details below.

The data comes from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration which has revealed that at the moment, there are seven large sunspot groups active on the Sun. These include AR3275, AR3279, AR3276, AR3277, AR3272, AR3273 and AR3278. However, do not think that these are all the sunspots present in the Sun. NOAA estimates have calculated that as many as 127 sunspots are likely to exist. It is just that they are too small to be seen from a telescope.

Solar storm fears rise as seven sunspots emerge on the Sun

One major reason why these sunspots are concerning is that they are extremely large and as such contain extremely strong magnetic charges within them. A change in polarity can turn them unstable and a powerful X-class solar flare eruption can occur almost instantaneously.

These eruptions are responsible for radio blackouts and GPS disruptions on Earth. They also release huge amounts of CME from the Sun's surface, which when comes in contact with the upper atmosphere of the Earth, sparks a geomagnetic storm. In extreme cases, these storms can damage satellites, disrupt mobile networks and internet services and even cause power grid failures.

Astronomers continue to observe the status of these sunspots to know whether one of them can explode anytime soon.

Know how NOAA monitors the Sun

While many space agencies from NASA with its Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) keep track of Sun-based weather phenomena, one that particularly stands out is the DSCOVR satellite by NOAA. The satellite became operational in 2016 and tracks different measurements of the Sun and its atmosphere including temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation, and frequency of the solar particles. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared.

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First Published Date: 14 Apr, 09:40 IST
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