Solar storm fears on Earth grow as 9 DANGEROUS sunspots appear on the Sun

Nine new sunspots have been detected on the Sun. It is being feared that if even one of them exploded, it could spark a dangerous solar storm on Earth.

| Updated on: Mar 28 2023, 13:24 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)
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Solar storm concerns are rising as new sunspots have been detected on the Sun. (Representative Photo) (NASA)

Last week, the Earth suffered the worst solar storm event in six years after a G4-class geomagnetic storm wreaked havoc for as long as eight hours. The severe storm was so strong that auroras were seen as far south as Colorado and New Mexico in the USA. Various reports also highlighted radio blackouts and GPS disruptions in geoeffective regions. However, the Sun is relentless and today, it appears that more dangerous solar storms are likely coming. As many as 9 sunspot groups have been detected on the Sun and there is a fear that if even one of them explodes, the resultant impact on the Earth can be dangerous.

The development was reported by which noted on its website, “Today, there are 9 sunspot groups on the sun”. The report also mentioned that for the time being, the sunspots appear to be stable. However, as we have seen in the recent past, sunspots can turn unstable at any time. And with so many of them staring at the Earth, the risk is high.

Solar storm fears increase amid 9 sunspots appearing on the Sun

For the unaware, sunspots are dark, temporary regions on the surface of the sun that appear as spots or blotches. They are caused by intense magnetic activity that inhibits the flow of heat from the sun's interior, resulting in a cooler region that appears darker than the surrounding area.

Once they accumulate enough magnetic flux, they begin expanding outwards and explode causing solar flare eruptions. Such eruptions spread powerful radiations which can often cause radio blackouts on Earth. Additionally, these eruptions also release coronal mass ejections (CME) from the surface of the Sun. These CME clouds are responsible for geomagnetic storms on Earth.

With nine active sunspots, there is a possibility that the Earth can be hit by another powerful solar storm. A powerful solar storm can potentially damage satellites, break down mobile networks and internet services, cause power grid failures and corrupt sensitive ground-based electronics such as pacemakers and ventilators.

NOAA's DSCOVR satellite's role in solar storm monitoring

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.

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First Published Date: 28 Mar, 13:15 IST
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