Solar storm alert! NASA says 3 sunspots could hurl out M-class solar flares | Tech News

Solar storm alert! NASA says 3 sunspots could hurl out M-class solar flares

NASA has now revealed that 3 sunspots could hurl out M-class solar flares, resulting in a solar storm. Check out the details of this solar storm alert below.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Jan 08 2024, 12:28 IST
Aditya-L1 mission reaches critical D-day stage! ISRO to carry out scary manoeuvre on January 6
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1/6 On January 6, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is set to execute a pivotal manoeuvre to bind the Aditya-L1 mission’s spacecraft into orbit around the Lagrangian point (L1). This crucial operation follows the spacecraft's launch on September 2, 2023, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. (ISRO)
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2/6 Preparations and Trajectory:  In the weeks following its launch, ISRO's Telemetry Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru conducted four earth-bound manoeuvres. Subsequently, on September 19, Aditya-L1 initiated the Trans-Lagrangian1 insertion manoeuvre, embarking on a 110-day trajectory toward the L1 point, positioned approximately 1.5 million km from Earth. (ISRO)
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3/6 Significance of L1 Orbit: ISRO underscores the advantages of placing the Aditya-L1 spacecraft in a halo orbit around the L1 point, situated about 1 percent of the Earth-Sun distance. This unique vantage point allows continuous observation of the Sun without any occultation or eclipse, providing unprecedented opportunities to monitor solar activities. (ISRO)
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4/6 Crucial Manoeuvre on January 6: Scheduled for around 4 pm on January 6, ISRO Scientists and Engineers from the Mission Operations Complex of ISTRAC will conduct a decisive manoeuvre. The spacecraft's propulsion system, including the 440 Newton Liquid Apogee Motor (LAM) engine and various thrusters, will be utilised to bind Aditya-L1 to its orbit around L1. (ISRO Facebook)
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5/6 Aditya-L1 Payloads and Objectives: Aditya-L1 mission spacecraft carries seven payloads designed to observe the Sun's photosphere, chromosphere, and outermost layers (corona). Four payloads will directly observe the Sun, while the remaining three will conduct in-situ studies of particles and fields at the L1 point. These instruments aim to provide crucial information on various solar phenomena. (ISRO)
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6/6 Aditya-L1 mission spacecraft is expected to operate for five years, during which its payloads will contribute essential data on coronal heating, coronal mass ejection, space weather dynamics, and more. Notably, Aditya-L1 joins four operational spacecraft at L1, including WIND, Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), and Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVER). (ISRO)
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A solar storm could be sparked due to 3 sunspots hurling out solar flares towards Earth, NASA SDO revealed. (nasa.gov)

Solar storm alert: Sunspots, solar storms, solar flares, and geomagnetic storms…that was the story of space weather in 2023, and 2024 has kicked off in the same manner. On the last day of 2023, we saw the strongest solar flare emitted since 2017, and it sparked radio blackouts for nearly 4 days in the polar regions. Just a few days later, 4 sunspots with unstable beta-gamma' magnetic fields hurled out M-class solar flares. This is just an indication of the Sun's might and as we approach the solar maximum that will likely occur in 2024-25, its wrath is only expected to increase. NASA has now revealed that 3 sunspots could hurl out M-class solar flares, resulting in a solar storm. Check out the details of this solar storm alert below.

Solar storm alert

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 3 sunspots have been observed on the Sun. All of them have ‘beta-gamma' magnetic fields, and this has raised the danger of M-class solar flares. The sunspots are AR 3536, AR 3540, and AR 3541. As per the report, these sunspots could spark a solar storm by hurling solar flares towards Earth. The findings have come courtesy of the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO).

The report states, “Three of these sunspots (3536, 3540, 3541) have 'beta-gamma' magnetic fields that pose a threat for M-class solar flares.”

About rising solar phenomena

Earth has been bombarded with solar activity in the last few months. In July, it was revealed that 2023 had already broken a 21-year record for the highest number of sunspots which were even more than initially predicted by scientists. But what does the rising number of sunspots mean? The number of sunspots on the Sun is directly related to the intensity of the solar peak. So, the higher the number of sunspots, the higher the chances of solar storms. Solar storms are caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) particles released whenever a solar eruption occurs. These eruptions, also known as solar flares, occur at the center of sunspots, which are the regions of unstable magnetic fields on the surface of the Sun.

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First Published Date: 08 Jan, 11:30 IST
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