Solar storm danger! Unstable sunspot can send horrifying X-Class solar flares towards Earth today

Sunspot AR3165 has become unstable and is set to explode, sparking a solar storm. It can send dangerous X-class solar flares towards the Earth today, December 15.

| Updated on: Dec 15 2022, 12:31 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)
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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)
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)
Solar flare
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Chances of a solar storm have increased due to a horrifying X-class solar flare being discharged from an unstable sunspot. (NASA)

A massive solar storm may well hit Earth sometime today. Earlier this week, it was reported that a massive region on the Earth-facing side of the Sun was filled with sunspots and magnetic filaments, which make it a highly reactive area prone to explosions. These explosions could throw powerful solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) and spark destructive solar disturbances. Now, the fear has come true as one of the sunspots, AR3165, has turned unstable and is cracking crackling with solar flares. The sunspot has already spewed out a medium solar flare last night and now there are chances of an X-class solar flare eruption anytime today, December 15. If it does happen, it can have scary consequences for the Earth. It has already caused a shortwave radio blackout on Earth.

The report came from which noted on its website, “New sunspot AR3165 is crackling with M-class solar flares. The strongest so far, an M6-class explosion (Dec. 14 @ 1442 UT) caused a shortwave radio blackout over the Atlantic Ocean. If current trends continue, the sunspot could produce an X-flare by the end of the day”.

X-class solar flare can hit the Earth today

According to the report, the Earth was already subjected to a shortwave radio blackout last night over the Atlantic ocean region. Thankfully, as the region is directly over water without any human population, the effect of it was limited to ships or airplanes in the region. However, an X-class solar flare can completely change the game.

Not only is an X-class solar flare will have a large spread across the Earth, it is also capable of nightmarish consequences. From damaging satellites, disrupting GPS and wireless communications signals to destruction of the internet and power grids, they can bring the Earth to a halt. These eruptions can also send CME particles towards the Earth and cause further solar storm events. Right now, it is not possible to assess exactly when this sunspot may actually explode and how intense the resultant solar flare can be but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is keeping a close eye for any new developments.

How NOAA keeps an eye on the Sun

NOAA monitors the solar storms and Sun's behavior using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The different measurements are done on temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation and frequency of the solar particles. Another Sun watcher is the Parker Solar Probe, which is also managed by NASA .

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First Published Date: 15 Dec, 12:11 IST
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