Solar flare alert! NASA observatory reveals threat of M-class flare

NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has discovered a sunspot that could hurl out M-class solar flares towards Earth soon. Know the details.

| Updated on: Oct 09 2023, 08:32 IST
The SHOCKING destruction caused on Earth by this MASSIVE geomagnetic storm
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1/5 The severe geomagnetic Storm of 1989: We often think of geomagnetic storms as a phenomenon that sparks aurora lights. However, these can be one of the most destructive consequences if the intensity turns high. One such example of this was seen on March 13, 1989, when the Earth experienced an extreme geomagnetic storm event. While its exact intensity remains uncertain due to the lack of certain measurements. However, the Disturbance Storm Time Index (DST index) recorded a reading of 500. And what it caused was unimaginable. (Pixabay)
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2/5 Hydro-Québec Power Grid Failure: The most significant consequence of this geomagnetic storm was the collapse of the Hydro-Quebec power network in Canada. This event resulted in a prolonged power outage that affected over 6 million people, lasting more than 9 hours. (Pixabay)
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3/5 Widespread Communication Blackout: The geomagnetic storm also caused widespread communication blackouts. Radio networks across Europe were jammed, but the most severely impacted were the UN peacekeeping forces in Namibia, whose operations were disrupted due to radio communication failures.  (Pixabay)
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4/5 Satellite and Spacecraft Damage: Notably, satellites suffered significant damage during this geomagnetic storm. NOAA's GOES weather satellite and NASA's TDRS-1 communication satellite both experienced interruptions in their operations. Even the Space Shuttle Discovery, which was in orbit around Earth, encountered sensor malfunctions. (Pixabay)
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5/5 2023 Geomagnetic Storm Risk: Geomagnetic storms are challenging to predict, and the Sun continually releases powerful coronal mass ejections (CMEs), solar flares and more. Given that the Sun is expected to reach the peak of its solar cycle in 2023, the risk of similar, if not more severe, geomagnetic storms is higher. Increased solar activity during the solar cycle's peak can lead to more frequent and destructive geomagnetic storms, making it a waiting game for scientists. They will have to ensure that in the future, they are better prepared for such events. (NASA)
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Sunspot AR3451 harbours a “beta-gamma” magnetic field that could trigger solar flares, as per the report. (NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory)

The Sun's activity is expected to increase in the coming months as we approach the Solar Maximum, the period in the solar cycle where activity is at its peak. It is expected to arrive in 2024 or 2025, and the number of sunspots has already exceeded previous predictions. During this peak, the planet could face CMEs, solar flares, solar storms, and other particles with potentially disastrous consequences. In a new development, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), which carries a full suite of instruments to observe the Sun, has recently revealed that Earth could be in the firing line of a sunspot and dangerous solar flares could be hurled out that could have the potential to wreak havoc.

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Dangerous sunspot

According to a report by, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), forecasts that a region on the Sun's surface, termed Sunspot AR3451, has a “'beta-gamma” magnetic field that could trigger solar flares. There is a chance for M-class solar flares to be hurled out and hit Earth soon.

It states, “Sunspot AR3451 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares”. For the unaware, solar flares are classified according to their strength on the logarithmic scale, similar to how earthquakes are measured. The smallest ones are A-class which occur at near background levels, followed by B, C, and M, while X-rated flares are the strongest.

Sun's magnetic poles disappear

According to a report, the Solar Dynamics Observatory has also observed that the Sun's North and South poles are disappearing. Although it would've been followed by a series of calamities if it were to happen on Earth, the disappearance of magnetic poles is considered natural during the peak of the solar cycle.

Before the year ends, the poles are expected to completely reverse the Sun's global magnetic field as we approach the peak of Solar Cycle 25.

Todd Hoeksema, a solar physicist at Stanford University told SpaceWeather, “In fact, it's routine. This happens every 11 years (more or less) when we're on the verge of Solar Maximum."

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First Published Date: 09 Oct, 08:32 IST