Volatile Sunspot all set to spew out solar flare, trigger a solar storm, reveals NASA | Tech News

Volatile Sunspot all set to spew out solar flare, trigger a solar storm, reveals NASA

In a new development, NASA says that a sunspot could hurl out an M-class solar flare which could trigger a solar storm. Check the details of this solar storm alert.

| Updated on: Mar 11 2024, 11:30 IST
Solar storm effects: From power grid failures to radio blackouts, know the dangers
Solar flare
1/5 Geomagnetic storms - The high-speed solar flares spewed out by a solar storm interact with the Earth's electromagnetic field and spark Geomagnetic storms. According to NASA, a geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth's magnetosphere which occurs when there is a strong exchange of energy from the solar wind in the space above Earth. (Pixabay)
Solar flare
2/5 Power grid failures - NASA says when solar storms hit Earth, they interact with the planet’s magnetosphere and induce currents in electrical systems. This leaves power grids vulnerable to major blackouts. For this to be possible, the solar storms have to be extremely powerful. (Unsplash)
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3/5 Change bird migration patterns - Solar Storms can also cause a change in the migration patterns of birds, whales and even bees. Since birds rely on the magnetic fields of the Earth for navigation, their migration patterns are affected. (Unsplash)
Solar flare
4/5 Radio blackouts - One of the major effects of solar storms is Radio blackouts. While the planet's magnetic field acts as a shield and protects it from most of these dangerous solar particles, these do get funnelled towards the poles, where they cause an ionizing effect, effectively absorbing shortwave radio waves and causing a loss of communication. (Unsplash)
Solar flare
5/5 Auroras - When a Solar Storm hits Earth, it sparks a Geomagnetic storm and the magnetic field lines of the Earth temporarily get disturbed, releasing extremely high magnetic energy. The energy and heat are enough to ionize oxygen present in the upper atmosphere and turn it into blue-green hues of light, which we know as Auroras or Northern lights. (Pexels)
Solar flare
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M-class solar flare could be hurled out by Sunspot 3595 and this will likley lead to a solar storm on Earth, says NASA. (Pixabay)

In the last two months, we've witnessed a sharp increase in solar activity. This is due to the approaching solar maximum, a period in the Sun's 11-year cycle where its activity is at its peak. Consequently, Earth has been bombarded with solar particles, CMEs, solar flares, solar storms and geomagnetic storms. Just recently, a G2-class geomagnetic storm sparked auroras over the Arctic Circle. In a new development, NASA says that a sunspot could hurl out an M-class solar flare which could trigger a solar storm. Check details.

Also Read: Know when and where to witness total solar eclipse 2024

Solar storm

According to a report by spaceweather.com, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO)  forecasts that a region on the Sun's surface, termed Sunspot AR3595, has the potential to emit solar flares. There is a chance for M-class solar flares to be hurled out and hit Earth soon.

Also Read: Geomagnetic storm sparks stunning auroras around the Arctic Circle

The report states, “Sunspot AR3595 has a 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class flares”. Since solar flares travel out directly from the flare site, if we can see the flare, we can be impacted by it.

Are M-class solar flares dangerous?

According to NASA, M-class solar flares are moderate in intensity and have the potential to cause brief radio blackouts. This is because when solar particles hit Earth, the radio communications and the power grid are affected when they hit the planet's magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. M-class solar flares can also be followed by minor radiation storms.

Solar flares are classified according to their strength on the logarithmic scale, similar to how earthquakes are measured. The smallest ones are A-class which occur at near background levels, followed by B, C, and M, while X-rated flares are the strongest. Similar to the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents a 10-fold increase in energy output. Within each letter class, there is a finer scale from 1 to 9.

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First Published Date: 05 Mar, 11:07 IST