After Sunspot AR3213 EXPLODES, solar storm set to hit Earth, NASA reveals

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory has revealed that sunspot AR3213 has exploded again, resulting in solar flare eruptions accompanied by shock waves. This solar storm has impacted Earth.

| Updated on: Feb 11 2023, 12:43 IST
NASA: From Solar Winds, Solar Flares to CME, check how solar phenomena impact Earth
Solar storm
1/5 The harrowing thing is that it will not just be China that would be affected by such a devastating solar storm. (NASA)
Solar Flare
2/5 Solar Flares: Solar flares are photon flares emitted from the Sun which travel from the flare site. They are rated on the basis of their intensity with the highest being an X-rated solar flare. It can cause power and radio blackouts and are responsible for the stunning phenomenon known to us as the Northern Lights or Auroras. (NASA/SDO)
3/5 Coronal Mass Ejections (CME): CMEs are massive plasma clouds carrying photons that are ejected from the Sun. CME occurs during the solar cycle and is at peak in the middle of the cycle. (NASA)
Coronal Mass Ejection or CME
4/5 Solar Winds: Solar winds are high speed winds coming from holes in the Sun called Coronal holes. These holes can form anywhere on the surface of the Sun. If these solar winds prevail near the solar equator, they can cause impact on Earth, according to NASA. (Pixabay)
Solar Particles
5/5 Solar Energetic Particles: Solar energetic particles are emitted from the Sun during Coronal Mass Ejections. These are charged particles; hence they follow the magnetic field lines between the Sun and the Earth and if they pass the magnetic fields near Earth, they have an impact. (NASA)
Solar Storm
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NASA SDO has detected a solar flare eruption on sunspot AR3213 in the early hours of February 10. Know how dangerous the solar storm attack was. (Pixabay)

The Sun has been extremely active in the last few days. It has been buzzing with regions that are highly unstable. This also includes two large sunspots that are directly facing the Earth. The more violent of the two, sunspot AR3213, has exploded again and caused a solar flare eruption. This solar flare was also surrounded by a shock wave, which was captured by the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). Shock waves usually lift coronal mass ejection (CME) out of the sun's atmosphere, so astronomers are worrying about impact of the solar storm.

The incident was reported by which noted on its website, “Active sunspot AR3213 exploded during the early hours of Feb 10th (0303 UT), producing an M3.7-class solar flare and a shock wave in the sun's atmosphere. Based on the drift rate of a Type II solar radio burst reported by the US Air Force, the shock speed was 820 km/s (1.8 million mph)”.

Sunspot unleashes solar flare towards the Earth

While the solar flare eruption was an M-class event, it is not clear whether it caused radio blackout on the Earth. Due to the position of the Earth with respect to the Sun, it is also possible that the affected region would entirely be in the Pacific Ocean and it did not affect any populated areas.

Shock waves after a solar flare eruption are usually an identifier for CME being released to space. However, NASA SDO remains confident that no CME escaped the Sun after this impact. CME particles most often cause solar storms on Earth, so it could have been a double whammy.

However, it might be a bit too early to celebrate. In a separate incident, a strange structure which looked like a canyon was seen on the Sun earlier today, February 11. reported, “A canyon of fire just opened on the sun. Movie: global, regional. The walls of the canyon were carved by an erupting filament of magnetism, which went on to form the core of a CME now leaving the sun”.

It needs to be monitored to see the direction of the CME, but if it is Earth-directed, we might be in for another solar storm in a day or two.

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First Published Date: 11 Feb, 12:43 IST
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