Fiery Earth-facing sunspots could unleash M-class solar flares

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted M-class solar flares that could be unleashed by two sunspots. Know details.

| Updated on: Aug 21 2023, 08:55 IST
India's Aditya L1 mission to study the Sun, CME, solar flares and more
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1/6 ISRO has unveiled its upcoming major project, the PSLV-C57/Aditya-L1 Mission. It will be India’s first space based mission that will explore Sun and space weather. (SDO/NASA)
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2/6 ISRO shared on X (Formally Twitter), “Aditya-L1, the first space-based Indian observatory to study the Sun, is getting ready for the launch. The satellite realised at the U R Rao Satellite Centre (URSC), Bengaluru, has arrived at SDSC-SHAR, Sriharikota.” (Nasa)
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3/6 The mission’s name is Sun's nucleus, Aditya-L1 looks forward to providing unmatched insights into the Sun's actions. Its method involves placing itself within a halo orbit encircling the Sun-Earth system's Lagrange point 1 (L1), which is approximately 1.5 million kilometres distant from Earth. (NASA)
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4/6 The spacecraft will contain seven advanced payloads that are designed to study different layers of the Sun including the photosphere and chromosphere to the outermost layer, the corona. These payloads have electromagnetic, particle and magnetic field detectors. (NASA/SDO)
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5/6 The capability for four payloads to collect accurate and concentrated observations of the Sun. Simultaneously, the remaining three payloads will investigate particles and fields at the Lagrange point. (NASA)
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6/6 Aditya-L1's mission has the ability to directly capture Sun from unique points without letting eclipses or occultation in its way. (NASA/Johns Hopkins APL/Steve Gribben)
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Two sunspots could unleash C, M-class solar flares. (Unsplash)

The Sun has been displaying its might over the last few months, and its activity is expected to increase as we move towards the peak of Solar Cycle 25, which is likely to be in 2025. During its 11-year cycle, the Sun unleashes CMEs, solar flares, solar storms, and other high energy particles which can damage electric infra on Earth. Although scientists now have the technology to predict most of these events, this cycle's activity has already exceeded the maximum threshold which was predicted earlier.

As per a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report, the number of sunspots seen in this cycle has surpassed the expectations from the solar maximum, nearly two years ahead of schedule. Experts have now shed light on two sunspots that recently hurled out solar flares towards Earth.

Solar flares today

According to NOAA, there are currently seven active sunspots facing Earth, and two of them hurled out flares towards the planet recently. Sunspots AR3409 and AR3403 exploded and sent out solar flares which could reach Earth today, August 21. As per the report, there is a 99 percent chance of C-class flares, while experts have also predicted a 15 percent possibility of M-class flares reaching Earth.

While it is unlikely, there is a 1 percent chance that these could turn out to be X-class solar flares, which are the strongest flares released by the Sun. Strong, X-class solar flares that the Sun hurls out can not disrupt global communications, harm satellites, and bring down the power grids to create blackouts, but also create radiation storms which can give small doses of radiation to the people flying in airplanes at the time!

Rising solar activity

As we move towards the peak of the solar cycle, the Sun's activity is expected to rise exponentially. As per a report by, Earth has entered a high-speed stream of solar wind, which caused geomagnetic storms and sparked auroras in Finland and Sweden.

Moreover, NASA's Perseverence Rover recently spotted a mammoth sunspot crossing the solar disk on August 17. It was big enough to be noticed from the surface of Mars! The rover captured images of the sunspot with the help of its Mastcam-Z. According to NASA, Mars orbits the Sun over its farside, and therefore, the rover can see approaching sunspots almost a week before Earth, giving us a heads-up of the oncoming solar activity.

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First Published Date: 21 Aug, 08:54 IST