A second TERRIFYING sunspot emerges on Sun; Solar storm fear doubles for Earth | Tech News

A second TERRIFYING sunspot emerges on Sun; Solar storm fear doubles for Earth

Astronomers have spotted a second giant sunspot emerging on the Sun. This one has arrived after a particularly unstable sunspot blasted solar flares over the last few days. So, are solar storm troubles increasing for Earth?

| Updated on: Feb 09 2023, 14:36 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
Solar flare released from the Sun
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)
Solar flare released from the Sun
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 flare released from the Sun
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Solar storm threat increases for Earth after another sunspot emerges on the Sun. (NASA/SDO)

Right now, the Sun is showing signs of being extremely active. On February 7, the Earth suffered a solar storm attack and a separate solar flare eruption that caused radio blackout in the pacific region. The sunspot responsible for this eruption, AR3213, is still sitting on the Earth-facing solar disk and there is a possibility of further solar disturbances coming from it. But worryingly, another sunspot has emerged on the Sun and it will soon be joining the former. This particular sunspot is also an unstable one. On February 7, a farside explosion was detected which is being associated with this sunspot. With both of these appearing at the same time increases the chances of a severe solar storm event on Earth.

The development was reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “A new and apparently large sunspot is emerging over the sun's southeastern limb…This is the same active region that produced a dramatic explosion from the farside of the sun on Feb. 7th”. This is concerning both due to the size of the sunspot and the fact that it has already exploded once.

Double sunspot attack on Earth

There are two factors that govern whether a sunspot can explode and send solar storms towards the Earth or not. The first is the size of the sunspot. The larger a sunspot, the higher magnetic flux it contains within itself. This region conflicts with the rest of the Sun's surface and its normal magnetic field lines. As the conflict increases, the pressure within the sunspot builds up and it explodes. However, not all large sunspots explode.

This brings us to the second factor which is how concentrated the magnetic flux within a sunspot is. The darker a sunspot appears on the Sun, the higher the chances for explosion. Darker sunspots also have a considerably lower temperature which lead to frequent eruptions so the convection of heat can continue.

Scarily, these two sunspots fulfill both these criterias and that's why there is a chance that a severe solar storm can strike the Earth. An extreme solar storm event (G5-class) can cause major damage to our planet. The resultant solar storm could be equivalent to the Carrington event of 1859 which is the largest recorded solar storm on Earth. A solar storm like that today can be quite terrifying. It can disrupt GPS, hamper mobile networks and the internet and even cause a massive power outage by corrupting the power grids. Even the electronic devices on Earth are not safe from malfunctioning.

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First Published Date: 09 Feb, 14:36 IST