Solar flare threat looms! 3 new sunspots may emit dangerous X-class solar flares | Tech News

Solar flare threat looms! 3 new sunspots may emit dangerous X-class solar flares

Forecasters have issued a warning against 3 sunspots which could emit dangerous solar flares.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Jan 09 2023, 10:22 IST
6 TERRIFYING solar storms that blasted Earth in 2022
Solar flare
1/6 On June 29, a surprise solar storm struck the Earth. The solar storm was not caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) but by a corotating interaction region (CIR), which opened a hole in the Earth's magnetosphere. It was a G1-class solar storm which is capable of causing shortwave radio blackouts and GPS disruptions. Interestingly, it coincided with the rare five planet alignment event.  (NASA)
Solar flare
2/6 Extremely rare pink auroras could be seen on November 3 near Greenland, after a G1-class solar storm slammed into the Earth. Solar storms usually give a greenish hue due to ionizing of Oxygen atoms. However, the CME in this case was able to reach the lower strata of the atmosphere which ionized Nitrogen atoms and gave off the rare pink aura.  (Representative Photo) (Pixabay)
Solar flare
3/6 On November 6, a powerful solar flare which was estimated to be an X-class solar flare caused temporary radio blackouts in Australia and New Zealand. The resultant solar storm blocked all high frequency radio waves making it hard for various emergency services and airlines that use radio communications to operate for multiple hours.  (Pixabay)
Solar flare
4/6 On August 7 and 8, a mysterious phenomenon was seen after a solar storm strike which scientists call STEVE (strong thermal emission velocity enhancement). A gigantic ribbon of purple light followed by a wave of green light could be seen in many parts of North America.   (@KaniskiDylan / Twitter)
Solar flare
5/6 A rare double solar storm attack was seen on March 14 when a G2-class solar storm was quickly followed up with another G1-class solar storm. Scientists believe that such multiple solar storm attacks are going to be more frequent in coming days as the Sun reaches the peak of its solar cycle. (Pixabay)
Solar flare
6/6 On October 25, the Sun seemed to beam a smile at Earth even as it spewed a stream of dangerous solar particles towards our planet. Multiple dark regions popped up on the Sun that gave an uncanny impression of a smiley face. The resultant solar storm from the event was noted to be a G2-class which is so strong that it is capable of causing fluctuations in electricity grids on Earth.  (SDO/AIA)
Solar flare
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Solar flares are spurted from Sunspots on the solar surface. (NASA/SDO)

The Sun has entered its middle age, estimated to be around 4.57 billion years. Scientists say during its last years in the solar system, the Sun will engulf nearby planets like Mercury, Venus and Earth. The study concluded that the Sun will reach its peak temperatures nearly 8 billion years into the future after which it will lower its surface temperature and increase its size. It is during this expansion that the Sun will become a red giant, swallowing nearby planets. Although there is enough time for many of our generations to live out their life fully before the Sun engulfs Earth, the planet faces a danger from the Sun today in the form of solar flares, according to NOAA forecasters.

According to a report by spaceweather.com, 3 new Sunspots have been discovered on the surface of the Sun with unstable “delta-class” magnetic fields. These sunspots are named AR3181, AR3182, AR3183. Although this solar activity might seem harmless due to the distance of the Sun from our planet, they can cause major damage. Because of the unstable nature of these sunspots, there is a 40% chance of M-class solar flares and even a 25% chance of X-class solar flares emitted from the sunspot.

The report said,” There are now 3 sunspots facing Earth with unstable 'delta-class' magnetic fields: AR3181, 82 and 83. NOAA forecasters say there is a 40% chance of M-class solar flares and a 20% chance of X-flares on Jan. 8th."

What are Sunspots?

According to NASA, Sunspots are dark areas on the solar surface which contain strong magnetic fields that are constantly shifting and can form and dissipate over periods of days or weeks. They occur when strong magnetic fields emerge through the solar surface and allow the area to cool slightly.

NASA mission to study solar activity

NASA has a mission in place to study the rising solar activity of the Sun. NASA's SunRISE mission, which stands for the Sun Radio Interferometer Space Experiment, is an upcoming mission expected to launch in 2024 to study and pinpoint how giant bursts of energetic particles originate from the Sun and evolve as they expand outward into space.

The mission will observe low radio frequency emissions to better understand the generation of Solar Storms as well as other explosive space events. This research will help scientists forecast space weather, improve our understanding of how our Sun works, and may apply to studies of other stars.

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First Published Date: 09 Jan, 09:52 IST
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