A huge sunspot grows visually and points directly at the Earth

A giant sunspot located directly in front of the Earth is challenging astronomers because of its rapid growth.

Over the past few days, astronomers have been following the evolution of a giant sunspot with very particular interest; It’s growing at an insane rate and will still be facing the ground for a few more days.

These sunspots are dark areas on the surface of the Sun. They appear as a result of differences in the magnetic field. If researchers keep a close eye on them, it’s because they are the scene of violent solar flares.

These are often associated with a phenomenon called coronal mass ejection, or CME. Very briefly, it is a bubble of charged particles (or more precisely of plasma) that finds itself ejected in a precise direction by the inner activity of a star.

© SDO / HMI

Earth directly on the horizon

When the sunspot in question faces the Earth directly, as is the case here, the planet is therefore directly exposed to these electromagnetic planets. It is precisely this possibility that motivates the observation of sunspots. Because this EMC can have very important consequences.

Most of them are stopped by the Earth’s magnetic field, which acts as a shield. But the most powerful of them can have noticeable effects. Not directly on humans, but on electrical installations and electronic devices. This is exactly what happened over the Easter holiday, when moderate solar flares caused quite a few radio dimmings on Earth (see our article).

A sunspot 2.5 times larger than our planet

And in some particularly rare cases, the situation becomes critical. In fact, ultra-powerful EMCs are quite capable of frying half of the world’s electronic infrastructure in just a few moments, with all the disastrous consequences that ensue.

Class X solar flare blackout radio on Earth

Suffice it to say, astronomers had to swallow a good shot when they discovered that the sunspot in question, called AR3038, was growing very fast. “Yesterday the AR3038 was big. Today it is huge. This fast-growing sunspot doubled in size in just 24 hours.”‘, explain the report’s authors on spaceweather.com. But fortunately, astronomers consider this mission less threatening than it appears.

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Class X outbreak is not expected

Solar flares are classified using a fairly specific nomenclature. Begins with a letter (A, B, C, M, or X) that identifies the energy class. a denotes the smallest; On the contrary, the X denotes the most violent outbursts. The official definition explains that they have the ability to “Causes planetary radio outages and long radiation storms“.

In the case of the AR3038, specialists estimate that it can generate an M-grade solar flare, which corresponds to medium density. So there is no There is no danger of a radio outage like last April. The possibility of an X-grade solar flare appears to be the only truly ominous type on our scale Absolutely excluded.

On the other hand, this event once again shows that the sun is there Especially active at the moment. Astronomers know that it is currently in the ascending phase of its 11-year cycle; So they expected a lot of activity. But even in this context, Spring Sun was eventful.

The number of sunspots is an excellent indicator of this dynamic. During that time, astronomers have observed nearly twice as much as expected. So we’ll have to knock on the wood when we get close to The next peak of solar activity, expected between 2023 and 2026.

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