Solar storm attack! Why Earth is suffering from this TERROR spawned by our Sun | Tech News

Solar storm attack! Why Earth is suffering from this TERROR spawned by our Sun

Ever since the beginning of the year, Earth has been riddled with solar storms. But why has the Sun suddenly turned much more violent than usual? Find out.

| Updated on: Jan 13 2023, 15:10 IST
Think you know our Sun? Check out THESE 5 stunning facts
Solar storm
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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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Know why the Sun has been blasting the Earth with solar storms recently. (NASA)

With three unstable sunspots currently facing the Earth, there is a 70 percent chance that either one of them can explode and spew out an X-class solar flare that sends a solar storm towards our planet. But this is not an isolated event. Since the beginning of 2023, Earth has suffered multiple solar storms caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) and solar flare eruptions. Among them, two were X-class solar flares that caused radio blackouts in Australia, New Zealand and South America. But the question is why has the Sun suddenly turned unstable and what is the reason behind this increased solar activity. Read on to find out.

Solar storms plague the Earth

In just the last twelve days, the Earth has suffered one CME-induced solar storm, two X-class solar flare eruptions and a couple of M-class solar flare eruptions. In the entirety of 2022, we have not seen such aggravated solar activity. And astronomers believe this is directly related to the Sun reaching the peak of its solar cycle.

Currently, the Sun is in its 25th solar cycle. For the unaware, the solar cycle is an 11-year period where the Sun undergoes changes in its magnetic activity, sunspot count and overall solar activity. Each solar cycle consists of a peak and a trough, known as solar maximum and solar minimum. During the solar maximum phase, the activity on the Sun dramatically increases and this is the period when solar storms and solar flares are seen at their highest. It should be known that we began counting solar cycles in 1755.

The Sun entered the solar cycle 25 in 2019 and it is expected that it will hit its peak in July 2025. And this is the main reason why the Sun has suddenly become so active. The peak of a solar cycle is usually marked with a high number of sunspots appearing together on the surface of the Sun. On average, during the peak, the Sun can have as many as 180 sunspots at the same time. So far, the highest number of sunspots we have seen on the Sun at the same time was 8, which happened two days ago, on January 11.

Now, it is predicted that the frequency and intensity of solar storm activities will be on the rise for the next two years till it hits the solar maximum. So, the Earth is in for a rough ride. If the Earth is hit with a G5-class solar storm, it can not only damage satellites and disrupt wireless communications such as internet services, mobile network and GPS, it can also cause power grid failures and even disrupt electronics such as pacemakers on Earth.

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First Published Date: 13 Jan, 15:09 IST