New sunspot tripled in size in 24 hours! Dangerous solar storm heading for Earth?
After a week of very low solar activity, the Sun seems to be springing back in action. In the last seven days, six sunspots appeared on the Earth-facing solar disk. While normally, it would have been a cause of concern, these sunspots were reported to be relatively stable with quiet magnetic fields. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the USA predicted that there was no real chance of solar flares this week and it came out to be true when the sunspots decayed naturally, leaving a spotless solar disk. However, things are about to change. A new sunspot has emerged on the Earth facing side of the Sun and it seems to be very unstable. In just 24 hours since yesterday, the sunspot AR3068 has tripled in size and now threatens the Earth with the possibility of a huge solar storm.
This was first reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “New sunspot AR3068 near the sun's southeastern limb is still small, but it is growing rapidly, tripling in size since yesterday. It merits watching as a possible source of near-future activity”. SpaceWeather has also shared an image of the sunspot that you can check here.
Solar storm scare after a sunspot triples in size in 24 hours
A few weeks ago, when a similar sunspot grew twice its size, a G3 class solar storm struck the Earth causing GPS disruptions, shortwave radio blackouts and affecting the communication systems for ships and airplanes. Fast moving solar winds from the flare that went off on Sun even created a temporary co-rotating interaction region (CIR) in Earth's magnetosphere, opening a crack and letting in more solar radiation than normal and increasing the intensity of the solar storm.
While it is too early to say whether a similar or even more intense solar storm can strike the Earth, the risk does pertain and that is why scientists are monitoring this particularly unstable sunspot. If it does end up blasting a G5 solar storm like the Carrington event, it can not only damage satellites, affect the internet and mobile network, but it can also mess up electronic gadgets and cause power grid failures. Worse still, it can also cause forest fires due to its highly charged radiation.