Science

Fast-growing sunspot could threaten Earth with flares and eruptions

A once tiny spot on the Sun’s surface grew to the size of Earth over the weekend, potentially threatening our planet with a radio outage that triggers solar flares and plasma ejections that could trigger auroras.

The sun has been active in the last few weeks, delighting high-latitude skywatchers and astronauts aboard the International Space Station with beautiful auroras. There may be more such storms in the future as sunspot AR3085 continues to grow and rotate toward Earth.

The sunspot is one of six active regions currently visible on the Sun’s disk, but forecasters aren’t overly concerned about it, predicting low activity over the next 24 hours with occasional weak solar flares that could cause brief radio outages. , according to the British Meteorological Weather Service. (will open in a new tab).

Related: Storm-boosted auroras dazzle skywatchers around the world (photo)

The Met Office expects low solar activity to continue over the next four days with a small chance of rising to moderate levels. A small coronal hole, a hole in the magnetic field lines in the Sun’s upper atmosphere, the corona, could increase the flow of the solar wind towards Earth, possibly leading to turbulent geomagnetic conditions that could make auroras visible farther from the poles.

Of course, sunspot AR3085, which according to spaceweather.com has grown tenfold in size over the past two days, could cause a coronal mass ejection (CME) – a burst of charged particles – to Earth, which would later trigger a geomagnetic storm. on the week. However, at present, no such CME is moving in our direction.

Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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