TechGiant sunspot 15 times Earth's width unleashes solar fury

Giant sunspot 15 times Earth's width unleashes solar fury

Sunspot
Sunspot
Images source: © KIS
10:02 AM EDT, May 10, 2024

A sunspot spanning 15 Earths in width has emerged on the Sun. The AR3664 spot poses serious implications, including potential disruptions in radio network operations. This spot has unleashed a massive X-class flare towards Earth.

According to LiveScience.com, this colossal sunspot can trigger effects akin to the 1859 solar storm. Given today's highly electrified world, the impact on our daily lives could be significantly more severe.

Live Science has noted that the AR3664 sunspot has expanded recently, categorizing it among this solar cycle's largest and most active sunspots. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) alerted on Tuesday, May 7th (Eastern Time), to the heightened risk of solar flares from this sunspot.

The frequency of potent solar flares has increased. The peak of a colossal X-class flare, the most intense class, was recorded on May 9th at 5:13 AM Eastern Time. Each subsequent class is ten times less intense than the previous one, with X at the top, followed by M, then C, B, and A classes. A-class flares are deemed insignificant. The strength within each class is denoted by a number ranging from 1 to 10, with X class flares potentially exceeding these values.

Numerous strong flares have been observed recently. Spaceweatherlive.com reports that an X-class flare with a strength of 3.98 occurred in the last 24 hours. Live Science highlighted that an earlier X-class flare with a strength of 2.25 disrupted shortwave radio communications in Europe and Africa.

These communication disruptions stem from intense bursts of X-rays and extreme ultraviolet radiation released during such eruptions. Racing towards Earth at light speed, this radiation ionizes the Earth's upper atmosphere. It’s important to distinguish this from coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which consist of plasma and magnetic fields and move much slower.

Geomagnetic storms and auroras on Earth

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's forecasts suggest the coming days may present a spectacle of sky phenomena. An impending geomagnetic storm could make auroras widely visible from Earth. Several flares have been coupled with coronal mass ejections. Thus, on the nights of May 10th and 11th, expect potent geomagnetic storms.

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