The sunspot has developed a magnetic field that can produce solar flares of the X class, experts say.
Some astronomers think a large solar flare may be building as the large sunspot on the sun has been disconcertingly quiet this week.
“Could it be the calm before the storm?” former NASA astronomer Dr. Tony Phillips wonders in an article on SpaceWeather.com.
Despite mellow conditions, the sunspot cataloged as AR3089 isn’t disappearing. According to Phillips, it has created a delta-class magnetic field capable of generating solar flares of the X class.
X-class flares are the most intense, but they are quite variable, with the most intense flare producing as much energy as a billion hydrogen bombs. Fortunately, Earth’s magnetosphere prevents this intense output from damaging living beings.
Nonetheless, there are several risks associated with X Flares, including the creation of coronal mass ejections, which can cause damage to satellites and communication systems on Earth. There are estimates that the strongest flare ever recorded occurred in 2003 and had an X40 rating, although sensors measuring it cut out at around X16.
Researchers classify solar flares based on their x-ray brightness. In general, there are three categories:
There are large X-class flares that can cause radio blackouts around the world and long-lasting radiation storms over the upper atmosphere. These types of flares occur on average about ten times a year, more often during solar maximums than solar minimums. During solar flares, strong to extreme radio blackouts (R3 to R5) occur on the daylight side of the Earth.
Earth’s polar regions are generally affected by brief radio blackouts caused by M-class flares. An M-class flare can sometimes be followed by a minor radiation storm.
C-class flares are smaller than X- and M-class flares and have few noticeable effects on Earth.
According to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center, there are just five percent chances for an X flare over the next three days. Nevertheless, we may witness a powerful flare and CME with the dangerous sunspot directly aimed at us.
Despite the fact that the eruption is unlikely to occur any time soon, we will not be out of the woods any time soon.
Since our star is near the peak of its 11-year sunspot cycle, we can expect it to remain hyperactive for some time. By 2025, scientists expect flares to become more intense and extreme, with the peak occurring in 2025. Some concerns may arise from this. According to a study published in 2021 by the University of California-Irvine, our internet communication structure is vulnerable to violent solar storms like those that could take place around 2025.
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