Crackling magnetic filament on Sun ready to explode; Solar storm danger looms

Near the equator of the Sun, a crackling magnetic filament has been spotted by astronomers which can explode at any time. This can bring yet another dangerous solar storm to Earth.

| Updated on: Mar 10 2023, 13:45 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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The Sun may soon bring another solar storm to the Earth as a magnetic filament goes berserk. (Representative Image) (

The Earth cannot catch a break from the Sun's wrath. It has been hours since the Earth has passed the coronal mass ejection (CME) cloud that sideswiped our planet, creating a very weak aurora display, and the Sun is preparing another onslaught. An astronomer has observed a magnetic filament near the equator of the Sun which is bustling with a huge amount of magnetic field lines. This means it can soon erupt and send another wave of solar storm towards our planet. Check the details.

The development was captured by Dr. Erika Palmerio, a research scientist at Predictive Science, who focuses on the Sun and space weather. In a tweet, she revealed, “the eastern limb of the Earth-facing Sun is just gorgeous right now. A very clear pseudostreamer near the equator—see the plasma following the magnetic field in a cusp-like shape! And a filament off the SE limb that may erupt with another show”.

For the unaware, streamers are closed magnetic loops which lie above divisions between regions of opposite magnetic polarity on the Sun's surface. They resemble and act like a solar flare, only, they do not form within a sunspot.

Another solar storm to soon hit the Earth

Streamers are pretty common on the Sun and are very clearly visible during solar eclipses. They are of two types, a helmet streamer and a pseudo streamer. Helmet streamers are concentric loops on the surface of the Sun whereas pseudo streamers form alongside each other instead of within one another.

However, the presence of such powerful streamers is an indication of the increased solar activity. If this streamer goes out, it will release a huge amount of radiation and magnetic energy that can disrupt shortwave radio communication on Earth. Further, they can release CME particles and send them to cause a dangerous solar storm.

For now, the streamer seems to be crackling with magnetic field lines, which means that its energy is growing unstable. However, whether it explodes while in the view of Earth or not is something that cannot be determined at the moment.

Interestingly, many forecasters predicted Solar Cycle 25, the current one, to be a weak one. But as February 2023 witnessed 100 sunspots in a 28 day period, which has happened only three times since 2014, many astronomers now believe that this solar cycle is definitely going to exceed expectations.

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First Published Date: 10 Mar, 13:44 IST
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