Astronomers discover immense sunspot swarms that could result in more dangerous solar flares in the coming months.
Legal Insurrection readers may recall that I wrote about the sun experiencing an intense period of activity this February.
It appears our star is not slowing down. Radio blackouts in Asia and Australia were recently triggered by a double solar eruption from one sunspot.
Days after being caught in the middle of a geomagnetic storm, the Earth was once again struck by a major solar flare on Sunday, which caused a strong shortwave radio blackout over southeast Asia and Australia. According to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), which is overseen by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the solar flare peaked late at 03: 34 am GMT on April 17, and was soon followed by a massive sun eruption known as a coronal mass ejection (CME).
One of the most powerful forms of a solar storm, a CME occurs when the Sun belches out a cloud of charged particles and electromagnetic fluctuations.
SWPC officials registered the flare as an X1.1-class sun storm, which lasted for about 34 minuted, (X-class storms are the most powerful ones on the sun) and lasted about 34 minutes, SWPC officials said.
X class storms are regarded as the most powerful solar storms to erupt from the Sun, and the SWPC noted that this one originated from Regions 2994 and 2993, which is a cluster of active sunspots that has seen “significant flaring” since it appeared on the eastern limb of the sun.
There may be more ejections soon. Observations indicate a number of sunspot swarms, which are indicative of conditions that can lead to solar flares.
A pair of massive sunspot swarms, some large enough to devour the Earth whole, have appeared on the surface of the Sun, increasing the chance of an intense solar storm.
Sunspots are dark regions of the Sun where it is cooler than other parts of the surface. Solar flares originate close to these dark areas of the star.
Recently, space weather forecasters spotted two ‘active regions’ known as AR2993 and AR2994 – swarms made up of a number of sunspots – in the past few days.
Solar flares and coronal mass ejections come from these regions, and when they explode in the direction of Earth, they can result in geomagnetic storms that produce beautiful auroras, as well as pose a danger to power grids and satellites.
Astronomers are projecting even more activity as we enter the next phase of the solar cycle.
It’s been a busy few weeks for the Sun, with multiple active sunspots sending off flares. Solar activity occurs in regular 11-year cycles, which have been recorded since 1775. The Sun is currently in Solar Cycle 25 and is in a period of ramping up its activity.
Solar Cycle 25 is expected to peak in late 2024 or early 2025, meaning that the frequency of sunspots, solar flares and CMEs are expected to increase.
Here is a timely reminder that in 2017, President Donald Trump joined with Congress to keep a committee tasked with focusing on protections from EMP (electromagnetic pulse attacks). Such protections would also be useful in astronomical events, which have the potential to be devastating to the modern world.
Nature also has the potential to send out its own version of an e-bomb in the form of “coronal mass ejections” from the sun. The biggest solar storm was recorded in 1859 and has been dubbed the “Carrington Event“, after British astronomer Richard Carrington, who witnessed the megaflare and was the first to realize the link between activity on the sun and geomagnetic disturbances on Earth.
The Carrington Event caused a geomagnetic disturbance so vast it caused sparks to leap from telegraph equipment that was operating at the time.
If a storm that severe occurred today, it could cause up to $2 trillion in initial damages by crippling communications on Earth and fueling chaos among residents and even governments in a scenario that would require four to 10 years for recovery, according to a report earlier this year by the National Academy of Sciences. For comparison, hurricane Katrina inflicted somewhere between $80 billion and $125 billion in damage.
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