Space watchers have spotted a massive sunspot three times the size of Earth, raising concerns about the potential for a medium-class (M-class) solar flare to move toward Earth.
NASA heliophysicist C. Alex Young, writing in EarthSky, said that between Sunday and Monday, Sunspot AR3038 more than doubled in size, making it several times wider than Earth’s diameter, and expanding over the past 48 hours. continued.
SpaceWeather.com writer Tony Phillips made similar observations, saying he was amazed by the speed at which the sunspot has been expanding over the past 24 to 48 hours.
“The size of the rapidly growing sunspot has doubled in just 24 hours,” he said on Wednesday.
Over the past few months, the Sun in particular has been sending out several M-class and X-class flares as activity increases in the sunspot’s regular 11-year cycle.
Sunspots are dark areas on the surface of the Sun, which are cooler than other areas. They emit powerful bursts of radiation/solar flares. Sunspots are very cold because they develop in places with extremely strong magnetic fields.
Scientists classify solar flames according to their brightness in X-ray wavelengths.
The X-Class flares are large; They are major events that can trigger radio blackouts all over the world and long-lasting radiation storms in the upper atmosphere.
M-Class flares are of medium size; They typically cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare.
C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences on Earth.
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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center forecasts a 25 to 30 percent chance of M-class flares and a 5 percent to 10 percent chance of X-class flares over the next three days.
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NASA’s Parker Solar Probe mission is periodically flying very close to the Sun to learn more about the origins of the Sun’s spots and to better understand the space weather created by the Sun.
(with inputs from agencies)
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