Solar storm ALERT! Sunspot about to explode, shows NOAA satellite; Can blast X-class solar flares

An unstable sunspot could soon explode, NOAA satellite has revealed. The high magnetic flux could translate into a powerful X-class solar flare eruption. A solar storm event is also possible. Check details.

| Updated on: May 23 2023, 08:43 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
1/5 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)
image caption
2/5 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)
3/5 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)
image caption
4/5 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)
image caption
5/5 The Sun doesn’t have moons, but eight planets orbit it, at least five dwarf planets, tens of thousands of asteroids, and perhaps three trillion comets and icy bodies. Also, several spacecraft are currently investigating the Sun including Parker Solar Probe, STEREO, Solar Orbiter, SOHO, Solar Dynamics Observatory, Hinode, IRIS, and Wind. (Pixabay)
Solar storm
View all Images
Know all about the solar storm terror brewing on the Sun. (Pixabay)

The weekend passed without any solar activity, but things are about to change. The highly unstable sunspot, AR3311, which was responsible for an X-class solar flare eruption last week that resulted in radio blackouts on Earth, can again explode to a terrifying effect. Unlike last time, right now the sunspot is in full Earth view and any eruptions will be geoeffective. This means a stronger ultraviolet radiation impact, which means a wider radio blackout, and a more powerful solar storm event. But just how devastating can the event be? Let us take a look.

As per a report by, “Unstable sunspot AR3311 has a 'beta-gamma-delta' magnetic field that harbors energy for strong solar flares. NOAA forecasters say there is a 75% chance of M-class flares and a 30% chance of X-flares”. It is also not out of the question that multiple simultaneous eruptions take place, which can further complicate matters.

Sunspot feared to explode

We have not seen such a big sunspot harboring so much magnetic flux in a couple of months. However, the last such sunspot exploded multiple times before facing the Earth and did not explode while it remained geoeffective. But chances of similar luck are low this time around.

If the sunspot does explode and blasts an X-class solar flare, the resultant coronal mass ejection (CME) that escapes into space could be large enough to trigger even a G5-class geomagnetic storm. Such storms hitting the Earth can damage satellites, disrupt GPS, mobile networks, and internet connectivity, cause power grid failure, and even impact ground-based electronics.

NOAA's GOES-16 satellite in solar storm prediction

GOES-16, formerly known as GOES-R before reaching geostationary orbit, is the first of the GOES-R series of Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites operated by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It was launched on November 19, 2016, and became operational on December 18, 2017. GOES-16 is located in geostationary orbit over the Atlantic Ocean and provides continuous imagery and atmospheric measurements of Earth's Western Hemisphere. It also carries a lightning mapper, which can detect both cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground lightning. GOES-16 is a vital tool for weather forecasting, climate monitoring, and space weather prediction.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google News, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 23 May, 08:42 IST