Tech UPTechnologySunspots big enough to swallow Earth discovered

Sunspots big enough to swallow Earth discovered

Recently, space weather forecasters have detected two “active regions” known as AR2993 and AR2994, two massive swarms made up of several gigantic-sized sunspots. Sunspots are dark regions of the Sun where the temperature is cooler than other parts of the surface, but it is the nearby place where dangerous solar flares start or emerge.

The chances of an intense solar storm increase

These colossal sunspots, large enough to engulf our entire planet, have appeared on the surface of our star, raising the possibility of an intense solar storm .

According to NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), coronal mass ejections from the Sun are divided into five categories, each ten times more powerful than the last: A, B, C, M, and X. gives them a size: the small numbers represent the smallest eruptions within the class. Thus, an X1 flare will be ten times less powerful than an X28.

active regions

These newly detected active regions appear to be followed by a third sunspot group , still hidden behind the sun’s northeastern edge (or apparent edge), which appears to have caused a powerful solar flare that missed Earth.

Each of the two swarms, AR2993 and AR2994, consists of several sunspots and covers an area of hundreds of millions of square kilometers, much larger than the diameter of Earth.

What causes these sunspots?

Sunspots are caused by magnetic disruptions in the Sun’s visible photosphere, which exposes the relatively cooler layers below, hence their dark color in the images.

Solar flares and coronal mass ejections come from these regions, and when they explode in the direction of the Earth (they send plasma and charged particles into space), they can generate geomagnetic storms that, although on the one hand they produce beautiful auroras, they also represent a danger for power grids and satellites; can cause power outages and crashes in the Internet network.


Is a solar storm coming?

Scientists aren’t yet sure if these new swarms of dark spots will lead to solar flares hitting Earth, but it’s a possibility within the next few weeks.


What happens to the Sun?

The Sun’s recent increase in activity is the result of it approaching the most active phase of its 11-year solar cycle, which will peak in 2024. Thus, as the solar cycle heads toward its maximum, increasingly complex sunspot zones will become visible.

The records suggest that the current level of solar activity corresponds to the same one that took place 11 years ago, during the same point in the last solar cycle.

Regarding the possibility of an extreme coronal mass ejection, it is a phenomenon that has not taken place on our planet since 1859, when the so-called ” Carrington event ” occurred, which created a geomagnetic storm with auroras that arose all over the globe, as well as fires in the telegraph stations of the time. This extreme solar storm took place on September 1 of that year and was initially recorded by the English astronomer Richard Carrington. It is considered the most powerful solar storm ever recorded in our recent history, but there have been others in the past, such as the one that took place 9,200 years ago.


Referencia: NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory / NASA – Solar Storm and Space Weather 

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