NASA detects massive sunspot that can trigger extreme solar storm activity | Tech News

NASA detects massive sunspot that can trigger extreme solar storm activity

Fears of solar storms rise after a new and massive sunspot appears on the Earth’s side of the Sun, as detected by the NASA SDO. Know the risk.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Oct 11 2023, 12:19 IST
Solar storm
Know the solar storm threat for the Earth this week. (Pixabay)

If you've been curious about the recent surge in solar activity, it's important to understand that scientists have forecast the upcoming peak of the current solar cycle for mid-2025. This peak, referred to as the Solar Maximum, signifies the period when solar activity reaches its zenith within the 12-year cycle. This also explains the occurrence of two distinct solar flare events in the last 24 hours, both of which resulted in radio blackouts on Earth. And now, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has spotted a troublesome sunspot with a strong delta charge that can explode anytime and hurl an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) to spark intense solar storm activity.

According to a report by SpaceWeather.com, “There is a sunspot now facing Earth with multiple poles mixed up and jostling together…NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the magnetic architecture of sunspot AR3460. It has many magnetic poles with + and - pressed together in close proximity. This could lead to magnetic reconnection and a strong, Earth-directed solar flare”.

Massive sunspot emerges as a solar storm threat

Sunspots are the most common source of solar flares. We saw this last week when another notorious sunspot exploded producing an M-class solar flare that sent a large cloud of coronal mass ejections (CME) towards Venus and it eroded a small part of its atmosphere. If this sunspot suffers a similar explosion, the eventual solar storm on Earth can have a devastating effect.

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Such intense solar flare eruptions can release a large amount of CME, which when strikes the magnetosphere of the Earth, can produce up to G5-class geomagnetic storms. These storms can disrupt GPS, hamper mobile networks and the internet, and even cause a massive power outage by corrupting the power grids. Even the electronic devices on Earth are not safe.

The role of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun and has been doing so since 2010. It uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities. They include Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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First Published Date: 11 Oct, 12:19 IST
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