3 Earths-Sized Sunspot is now within firing range of our planet

[Sum­ma­ry: A sunspot the size of three Earths is with­in the fir­ing range of the Earth. There are cur­rent­ly no auro­ra alerts for Earth from NOAA’s Space Weath­er Pre­dic­tion Center.]

Cur­rent­ly fac­ing us is a sunspot the size of three Earths, which is with­in fir­ing range of our plan­et and could soon pro­duce medi­um-class flares. On June 22, 2022, Tony Phillips, the author of SpaceWeather.com, wrote, “Yes­ter­day, sunspot AR3038 was big. Today, it’s enor­mous”.

When mag­net­ic ener­gy that has accu­mu­lat­ed in the solar atmos­phere is abrupt­ly released, it caus­es a solar flare. From radio waves at the long wave­length end to opti­cal emis­sion to x‑rays and gam­ma rays at the short wave­length end, radi­a­tion is pro­duced across almost the whole elec­tro­mag­net­ic spectrum.

Sunspot and Solar flares

We know a pow­er­ful con­cen­trat­ed out­burst of elec­tro­mag­net­ic radi­a­tion in the Sun’s atmos­phere as a solar flare. In areas where the sun is active, flares fre­quent­ly coex­ist with solar par­ti­cle events, coro­nal mass ejec­tions, and oth­er solar phe­nom­e­na, albeit not always. The 11-year solar cycle affects how fre­quent­ly solar flares occur.

Accord­ing to their X‑ray bright­ness, in the wave­length range of 1 to 8 Angstroms, sci­en­tists cat­e­go­rize solar flares. The class­es of flares are A, B, C, M, and X, where A denotes the small­est and X denotes the great­est. There are nine sub­cat­e­gories under each cat­e­go­ry, span­ning from C1 to C9, M1 to M9, and X1 to X9.

Potential blast of M‑class flares

Author Philips not­ed that the rapid­ly expand­ing sunspot has dou­bled in size in just 24 hours and that the mag­net­ic field around it has the abil­i­ty to fire M‑class solar flares at our planet.

Accord­ing to astronomers, if the sunspot releas­es a coro­nal mass ejec­tion, or CME, of charged par­ti­cles direct­ed at our plan­et, it’s like­ly that those par­ti­cles will inter­act with our mag­net­ic field and pro­duce auro­ras, or col­or­ful lights in our atmosphere.

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How­ev­er, there are cur­rent­ly no auro­ra alerts for Earth from the Nation­al Ocean­ic and Atmos­pher­ic Admin­is­tra­tion’s (NOAA’s) Space Weath­er Pre­dic­tion Cen­ter, which tracks solar flares and oth­er outbursts.

The Sun has been emit­ting sev­er­al M‑class and X‑class (the strongest class) flares as activ­i­ty increas­es in the typ­i­cal 11-year cycle of sunspots, which has been par­tic­u­lar­ly active this spring.

In addi­tion to the bril­liant auro­ras, CMEs occa­sion­al­ly result in tem­po­rary radio black­outs. Occa­sion­al­ly, CMEs can harm impor­tant infra­struc­ture, includ­ing pow­er lines and satellites.

Because of this, NASA and NOAA reg­u­lar­ly mon­i­tor the sun. NASA’s Park­er Solar Probe mis­sion also occa­sion­al­ly flies extreme­ly close to the sun in order to research the sources of sunspots and the space weath­er the solar generates.

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