NOAA says STRONG M-class solar flare set to hit Earth, may generate geomagnetic storm | Tech News

NOAA says STRONG M-class solar flare set to hit Earth, may generate geomagnetic storm

NOAA forecasters have alerted about a potent M-class solar flare that is set to hit Earth?

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Apr 16 2023, 09:24 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
Solar flare
1/4 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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2/4 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)
Solar flare
3/4 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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4/4 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)
Solar flare
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Is Earth in danger from the upcoming solar flare? Find out here. (Pixabay)

There is a solar flare coming that is likely to hit Earth, NOAA has revealed. Solar flares are spewed out by our Sun and can be several times larger than the Earth and cause significant damage through geomagnetic storms. To better understand these solar flares, researchers have successfully replicated them in a laboratory. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters have alerted that there are chances of a solar flare today itself, SpaceWeather.com reported. The possibility of a solar flare is 40 percent and that too of an M-class intensity.

AR3280, a rapidly developing sunspot, is probably the origin of the impending solar flare. It possesses a beta-gamma magnetic field that is unstable and has the potential for M-class solar flares. Solar flares are categorized into A, B, C, M, and X classes according to their strength. An X-class solar flare is considered the strongest, while an M-class solar flare is the second most powerful.

Active regions on the Sun, usually characterized by sunspot groups and strong magnetic fields, are the typical sites for solar flares. As these magnetic fields undergo changes, they can become unstable and discharge energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation, which manifests as solar flares.

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Impact of Solar Slare on Earth

The worrying part is that the sunspot is almost directly facing Earth, SpaceWeather.com added in its report. What effect will it have on Earth? Although Earth's magnetosphere is effective in blocking solar flares, some charged particles manage to penetrate through. These high-energy particles can result in magnetic disruptions referred to as geomagnetic storms or substorms, which can give rise to beautiful auroras, also known as the Northern Lights.

When solar particles collide with Earth, they can interfere with radio communications and the power grid by impacting the planet's magnetic field. These effects can lead to power and radio blackouts lasting from a few hours to several days. However, electricity grid complications are rare and only occur during major solar flares.

Tech behind solar flare predictions

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.

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First Published Date: 16 Apr, 08:43 IST
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