Solar storm danger: Sunspot ‘10 times wider than Earth’ could hurl out M-class solar flares | Tech News

Solar storm danger: Sunspot ‘10 times wider than Earth’ could hurl out M-class solar flares

NASA has highlighted that a massive sunspot on the solar surface could hurl out M-class solar flares towards Earth. Know all about this solar storm danger.

| Updated on: Jan 22 2024, 13:45 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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Sunspot AR3559 could hurl out solar flares towards Earth, sparking a solar storm, NASA says. (NASA)

Earth witnessed f X-class solar flares a number of times in the last few months. For the unaware, X-class solar flares are the most intense flares which can result in long-lasting radiation storms. In December, there were two instances of terrifying X-class solar flares hitting the planet, one of which caused a radio blackout in the polar regions for almost 3 days. Now, another solar storm danger has been highlighted as a massive sunspot on the solar surface could hurl out M-class solar flares towards Earth. Know all about this solar storm danger.

Solar storm danger

According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), sunspot AR3559 tripled in size over the weekend, and it is now 10 times wider than Earth! It has more than 12 dark cores. NASA says you need just eclipse glasses to view this gigantic dark spot on the Sun's surface! The same sunspot also has an unstable ‘beta-gamma' magnetic field, and harbours the energy to produce strong M-class solar flares and bring about a solar storm.

SpaceWeather report states, “A big sunspot is turning toward Earth. AR3559 tripled in size over the weekend, growing 10 times wider than Earth with more than a dozen dark cores.  An unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic field makes AR3559 a threat for strong M-class solar flares.”

The solar flare danger was discovered using NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. If it impacts, a solar storm could be on the cards soon.

About the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory

The NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) uses three very crucial instruments to collect data from various solar activities. They include the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI) which takes high-resolution measurements of the longitudinal and vector magnetic field over the entire visible solar disk, Extreme Ultraviolet Variability Experiment (EVE) which measures the Sun's extreme ultraviolet irradiance, and Atmospheric Imaging Assembly (AIA) which provides continuous full-disk observations of the solar chromosphere and corona in seven extreme ultraviolet (EUV) channels.

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First Published Date: 22 Jan, 13:44 IST