Dangerous solar flares set to hit Earth as sunspot turns volatile

An unstable Sunspot was observed on the solar surface which could result in solar flares being hurled out.

| Updated on: Dec 19 2022, 09:42 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 flare
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Scientists have observed an unstable Sunspot which could spit out dangerous solar flares. (Pixabay)

The Sun's solar activity is at a high due to it being nearly in the middle of its 11-year solar cycle. As a result, Earth has been in the firing line of solar flares, solar storms, Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and more solar phenomena for the past months, and more are expected as the Sun moves ahead in its cycle. Although this solar activity might seem harmless due to the distance of the Sun from our planet, they can cause major damage. Now, scientists have observed an unstable Sunspot which could spit out dangerous solar flares.

According to a report by spaceweather.com, Sunspot AR3163 has an unstable magnetic field which could result in a significant explosion. This has increased the chance of solar flares with a 50 percent possibility of M-class solar flares. There's also a small chance that X-rated flares could gush out. The report said,” Solar activity is low, but it might not remain so. At least one sunspot (AR3163) has an unstable magnetic field capable of significant explosions. NOAA forecasters say there is a 50% chance of M-class flares and a 10% chance of X-flares".

About Sunspots

According to NASA, Sunspots are dark areas on the solar surface which contain strong magnetic fields that are constantly shifting and can form and dissipate over periods of days or weeks. They occur when strong magnetic fields emerge through the solar surface and allow the area to cool slightly.

Could a Solar Storm end all life?

According to NASA scientists, Earth has two very distinct advantages – the magnetic field and atmosphere. The magnetic field interacts with the solar flares to stop them while Earth's atmosphere acts as an insulator and absorbs most of the solar particles. Alex Young, Associate Director for Science in the Heliophysics Science Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said in a video way back in 2012, “We live on a planet with a very thick atmosphere… that stops all of the harmful radiation that is produced in a solar flare. ”

“Even in the largest events that we've seen in the past 10,000 years, we see that the effect is not enough to damage the atmosphere such that we are no longer protected,” he further added.

Therefore, it seems like you don't have to search for another planet to live on any time soon, and your time on Earth won't be cut short, at least by a solar storm.

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First Published Date: 19 Dec, 09:36 IST
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