Giant sunspot facing Earth raises M-class Solar Flare fear

    NOAA has predicted that there is a 60 percent chance of M-class solar flare today due to a giant sunspot which is facing the Earth.

    By: HT TECH
    | Updated on: Jan 21 2023, 22:35 IST
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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)
    Solar flare
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    A huge sunspot, almost five times the diameter of Earth is expected to spew out a powerful solar flare today. (Pixabay)

    A giant sunspot detected on the surface of the Sun has raised fears of a strong Solar flare being spewed out that may hit Earth. NOAA forecasters warned that there is a 60 percent chance of an M-class solar flare and a 15 percent chance of X-class flare. It must be noted that an X-class solar flare denotes one of the most intense flares. Basically, solar flares are classified into four classes - A, B, C, M, and X, based on their intensity. Solar flares are intense bursts of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy, from a Sunspot.

    The report from SpaceWeather.com suggested that the main source of these strong solar flares is a giant sunspot AR3190. The worrying part is that this sunspot is facing Earth, which increases the chances of direct impact on our planet. Not just that, it is one of the largest sunspots of the current Solar Cycle 25, which is at its peak. "It's almost five times the diameter of Earth, and could be seen through the thick humid atmosphere over the Gulf of Mexico," David J Kriegler, one of the observers, told Spaceweather.com.

    The giant size of the sunspot makes it an easy catch for amateur astronomers. You don't need any solar telescope to witness this huge sunspot AR3190. Eclipse glasses work best here. However, you need to be cautious! “Even when the sun is dimmed by low clouds or haze, looking directly through the camera can damage your eyes. Always use the LCD screen for view finding,” SpaceWeather.com report mentioned.

    Tech behind Solar Flare detection

    From NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), many agencies keep a constant track of these solar flares. Then there is the DSCOVR satellite, which tracks different measurements of the Sun and its atmosphere including temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared.

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    First Published Date: 21 Jan, 22:34 IST
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