This year has been pretty interesting for the Sun due to its sporadic explosions, sunspots and the release of coronal mass ejections. In fact, just earlier this week, the Sun spat out a rather surprising solar flare at Earth, resulting in temporary radio blackouts in areas by the Pacific Ocean. And today, there is a chance for another X-class flare!
According to spaceweather.com, the Big Sunspot AR3141 continues to grow more and more dangerous. In the last 24 hours, the spot has developed an unstable ‘delta-class’ magnetic field that harbours energy for X-class solar flares. Further, any explosions released today will be geoeffective or capable of causing a geomagnetic disturbance since the sunspot directly faces Earth.
Solar flares are essentially explosions on the surface of the Sun that happen when energy trapped in twisted magnetic fields (usually above sunspots) gets released all of a sudden. Flares produce bursts of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to x-rays and gamma-rays.
NOAA has classified solar flares into five categories — A, B, C, M and X — based on the intensity of the X-rays they release, with each level having ten times the intensity of the last. X-class flares are big and the most intense of the five. They are major events capable of triggering planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.
Scientists continue to keep a close eye on the sunspot as it may explode at any time.
Meanwhile, the Sun has been in a perpetual snit lately. But this is only the beginning, as solar activity is expected to increase more the closer we get to the peak activity phase of the Sun’s 11-year solar cycle in 2025.
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