The sun turns toward Earth in a Mars-sized spot. How dangerous is it?

How did it all start?

The Space Weather Archive reported on August 3 that sunspot AR2770 has two dark

nuclei (each the size of Mars) and radiatessmall solar flares of class B. Its potential for even stronger flares will become apparent in the coming days, when the spot turns towards Earth, revealing its magnetic complexity more fully.

The magnetic field of the sun.

NASA

According to the International Business Times,an amateur astronomer named Martin Wise from Florida first noticed the AR2770 earlier this month. On August 9, Wise uploaded a new set of images to the Space Weather Gallery and wrote that he took another look at the AR2770 and noticed a "pronounced light bridge." A light bridge is a thin patch of solar material that has originated in a cluster of sunspots, connecting the material on either side of the sunspots to each other. This is a sign that the AR2770 cluster is breaking up into smaller pieces - this is the beginning of its end.

What is known about the sun spot AR2770?

The sun has a massive sunspot thatturns towards our planet, which can lead to large, strong outbreaks. According to a report from spaceweather.com, sunspot AR2770, which was recorded earlier this week, will increase in size. This particular sunspot has already emitted several minor cosmic flares that have not caused anything serious other than "minor waves of ionization penetrating the upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere."

However, there were messages in the media with concerns aboutsolar flares - extremely powerful flares of radiation from the sun - that can disrupt electromagnetic phenomena on Earth, including radio transmission and alternating currents. The reports focus on one particular sunspot cluster, designated AR2770.

However, if it is a stain that can reach50,000 kilometers in diameter, can produce a luminous flux, a huge amount of energy, which in turn will lead to solar flares. These eruptions can lead to solar flares and storms.

How dangerous is a sunspot AR2770?

While stronger outbreaks candamage the Earth or near the Earth, very few of them actually do it. Dibyendu Nandi, a solar astrophysicist at the Center of Excellence for Space Sciences of India (CESSI), IISER Kolkata, stated in an interview with Science The Wire that there is indeed a "killer" flash, such as one that could disrupt GPS navigation and turn off power grids. happens about once a century. The last such storm happened in 1859 - it was called the "Carrington Event" - and somewhat less severe - in 1989.

Flash in the sun.

NASA

But while a very powerful flare would be statistically belated, so far AR2770 has not shown any activity to indicate that it could be the cause of such a storm or storm.

"Tempest" here refers to a geomagnetic storm. The sun emits a continuous stream of particles into space called the solar wind. Charged particles in the solar wind have tiny magnetic fields of their own. When the wind hits the Earth's magnetosphere, which is the magnetic field surrounding the Earth, they interact in such a way that the shape of the magnetosphere can undergo temporary changes. The magnetosphere also becomes more or less energetic due to the exchange of electromagnetic energy. Geomagnetic storm is the name for these temporary disturbances in the magnetosphere.

The 25th solar cycle is just beginningand more and more new spots appear on the Sun. However, we do not expect any "deadly" solar storm due to the giant slick to occur anytime soon. CESSI at IISER in Kolkata was formed with the goal of generating space weather forecasts for the country ... and we see no chance of a major outbreak.

Dibyendu Nandi, Solar Astrophysicist at the Center of Excellence in Space Sciences of India (CESSI)

On the other hand, even an initial sunspot can sometimes cause a very violent storm.

What is a sunspot?

Sunspots, dark areas on the surfaceThe suns contain strong magnetic fields that are constantly changing. Sunspots form and disappear within days or weeks. They occur when strong magnetic fields exit through the Sun's surface and allow the area to cool slightly, from a background value of 6,000 ° C to about 4,200 ° C.

This area looks like a dark spot oncontrast with the very bright photosphere of the sun. The rotation of these spots can be seen on the sun's surface; they take about 27 days to complete a complete revolution as viewed from Earth.

Sun spots remain more or less on theirplaces. Near the solar equator, the surface rotates at a faster rate than the sun's poles. Sunspot groups, especially those with complex magnetic field configurations, are often the sites of solar flares. Over the past 300 years, the average number of sunspots has regularly increased and decreased in an 11-year (average) solar cycle or solar cycle.

Compared to the size of the Sun, they are small, but, in fact, the size of the AR2770 spot reaches Mars.

As solar activityincreases in the first half of the solar cycle, spots become more common, and more energy is transferred to solar winds. When there are relatively fewer sunspots on the surface of the Sun, the solar wind blows from the equatorial region of the star at a speed of 400 km / s and from the polar regions at a speed of almost 700 km / s.

When sunspot activity is more pronounced, magnetic fields are distorted and the solar wind blows more vigorously from all parts of the sun.

What is a solar flare and how are they dangerous?

A solar flare is an intense flareradiation resulting from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are the largest explosive events in our solar system. They look like bright spots in the Sun and can last from minutes to hours. Scientists usually see a solar flare by the photons (or light) it emits, at a maximum at each wavelength in the spectrum. Astronomers mostly track flares using X-rays and optical light. Flares are also the place where particles (electrons, protons, and heavier particles) are accelerated.

In other words, the magnetic field linesnear sunspots often intertwine, intersect and rearrange. This can cause a sudden burst of energy called a solar flare. Solar flares throw a lot of radiation into space. If a solar flare is very strong, the radiation it emits can interfere with our radio communications here on Earth.

The sun released a powerful flare on November 4, 2003. This event was captured by the Extreme ultraviolet Imager in line 195A aboard the SOHO spacecraft.

ESA and NASA / SOHO

Solar flares are sometimes accompanied by an ejectioncoronal mass. These are huge bubbles of radiation and particles from the Sun. They explode in space at a very high speed when the lines of force of the Sun's magnetic field are suddenly reorganized.

According to the National Oceanic andAtmospheric Research (NOAA), CME emissions can lead to "fluctuations in electrical currents in space and the excitation of electrons and protons trapped in Earth's changing magnetic field." Solar flares caused by these CMEs can also cause intense light in the sky, called auroras.

Solar flares are the result of changemagnetic fields on sunspots, which cause a huge burst of energy that leads to magnetic storms. The processes occurring on the star lead to magnetic storms on our planet. Solar flares are considered one of the most dangerous. These are explosions on the surface of a cosmic body that release a huge amount of energy. Scientists believe that one flash is equivalent to the explosion of a trillion atomic bombs.

These solar flares are often thrown into space, and their radiation can disrupt radio communications on Earth.

This animation shows the X2.2 and X9.3 flares that the Sun emitted on September 6, 2017. The image was taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows light with a wavelength of 131 angstroms.

NASA / Goddard / SDO

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