Solar storm threat looms as NASA detects sunspots on the far side of the Sun | Tech News

Solar storm threat looms as NASA detects sunspots on the far side of the Sun

Farside sunspots have emerged on the Sun and they will soon face the Earth, NASA has revealed. Will these blast solar storms towards us? Find out.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Feb 04 2023, 12:21 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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Farside sunspots on the Sun create fears for solar storm attack on the Earth. (nasa.gov)

In the last ten days, the Earth has only suffered one minor solar storm. All the sunspots on the Earth-facing solar disk, which reached as many as 12 at a point, have also disappeared and our planet is enjoying a brief period of calm. But there is a possibility that it is just the calm before the storm! NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) has detected two groups of sunspots on the farside of the Sun. As these sunspots slowly turn to face the Earth, there are fears among astronomers that the Earth can again see a phase of high solar activity like it experienced in the first two weeks of January.

The incident was reported by SpaceWeather.com which noted on its website, “Two large sunspot groups are transiting the farside of the sun. We know because NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory is detecting their helioseismic echoes”. It also added that the sunspots will face the Earth in a week's time.

More solar storms coming for the Earth?

If you're wondering how the NASA SDO was able to see the other side of the Sun, then you should know that the satellite didn't actually see it. It uses a method called helioseismology where it detects the active region on the Sun in a process very similar to how on Earth, seismologists learn about the interiors of the Earth by monitoring earthquakes.

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This prediction means that in seven days, the Earth is likely to suffer a similar fate as it did earlier this year. Between January 1 and January 15, the Earth suffered two X-class solar flare eruptions, around three solar storm events caused by coronal mass ejections (CME) and a separate solar storm event where solar winds caused a rip in the magnetosphere of the Earth.

It can also not be sure just how intense these solar storms can be. A particularly powerful solar storm can destroy satellites and disrupt wireless communications such as GPS, mobile networks, satellite phones and even space monitoring systems. They are also capable of taking out internet services, power grids and even crucial electronic devices such as pacemakers and ventilators. For now, we can just hope that the sunspots are not capable of something even remotely close.

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First Published Date: 04 Feb, 12:20 IST
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