Dangerous sunspot boosts solar flare risk to new high today! Blackouts expected

Solar flare risk has increased manifold today today due to this dangerous sunspot. Check out NOAA warning.

| Updated on: May 28 2023, 16:05 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
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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)
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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)
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The NOAA predicts a 55 percent probability of an M-class solar flare on May 28. (Pixabay)

A dangerous sunspot has emerged on the Sun and it may have a significant effect on Earth! Just a few days ago, there was no sign of sunspot AR3315. However, according to SpaceWeather.com, it has now become the largest and most dangerous sunspot on the visible part of the Sun- the side facing the Earth at the moment. This sunspot, designated as AR3315, possesses a magnetic field classified as 'beta-gamma-delta,' which contains a considerable amount of energy capable of triggering powerful eruptions. For those who may not know, a sunspot is a dark, relatively cooler region that appears on the surface of the Sun due to intense magnetic activity. The experts at NOAA predict a 55 percent probability of an M-class solar flare. However, things may get really serious too. It also says there is a 10 percent chance of X-flares occurring on May 28th.

As per NASA, solar flares are categorized based on their intensity using a logarithmic scale. The scale begins with the smallest flares classified as A-class, which are close to background levels. It then progresses to B, C, M, and X, with each subsequent class representing a tenfold increase in strength. Thus, an X-class flare is ten times more powerful than an M-class flare and a hundred times more intense than a C-class flare. Within each letter category, there is a further subdivision from 1 to 9 to provide a more detailed assessment of the flare's strength.

Impact on Earth

Will this solar flare will have an impact on Earth? It seems so! The report says that any eruption will be geoeffective because the sunspot is directly facing Earth. As per the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) three-day forecast of space weather, there is a chance for R1-R2 (Minor-Moderate) radio blackouts, and a slight chance for R3 (Strong), over the next couple of days from May 28th to 30th. Radio blackouts refer to disturbances in radio communications, particularly those operating in certain frequency bands, caused by intense solar activity.

How scientists monitor solar flares

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monitors Solar Flares and Sun's behaviour using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The satellite tracks different measurements of the Sun and its atmospheres such as temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation, and frequency of the solar particles.

NASA has other spacecraft monitoring the Sun and these include SOHO, ACE, IRIS, WIND, Hinode, the Solar Dynamics Observatory, and STEREO.

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First Published Date: 28 May, 15:53 IST
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