NASA: A massive sunspot is facing Earth and it is going to send a giant solar storm hurtling at us. The first giant solar storm is set to strike Earth tomorrow.
NASA: New developments on the Sun have scientists worried on Earth. A particularly large and very active sunspot has rotated to face the Earth. The central region of this sunspot, labeled AR2975, is as large as two Earths put together. It is now feared that this sunspot, which is an active zone of solar activity, will result in numerous solar storms or geomagnetic storms targeted at our home planet. The sunspot has already shot multiple C-class solar flares and an M-class solar flare in the last couple of days. The latter even caused a brief shortwave radio blackout over southeast Asia. But the scariest among them all is a gigantic coronal mass ejection (CME) which was hurled towards Earth. According to NASA, the resultant solar storm will hit Earth tomorrow, March 27.
Different solar flare classes
Scientists remain cautious, even as they state that the geomagnetic storm activity will be a minor one and only result in aurora display in the northern hemisphere at higher latitudes. The concerns are serious as the risk of an X-class solar flare activity also remains high. For the uninitiated, solar flares are divided into 4 classes in increasing intensity. B-class is the lowest tier and is too small to harm Earth. C-class solar flares can cause few noticeable consequences for Earth with northern lights being the primary one. M-class solar flares can give out solar storms which can cause brief radio blackouts and minor damage to satellites in direct range. Finally, X-class solar flares can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms.
Giant solar storm to hit tomorrow
On March 27, the solar storm resulting from the CME hurled towards Earth will be striking down on the Earth according to NASA. Most estimates highlight that it will be a moderate geomagnetic storm which will most likely not cause any damage to the communication system of the Earth. Minor disruption in shortwaves is still possible. And similarly, smaller satellites in higher orbits around the Earth can face some damage if it came directly in line with the storm. However, no significant damage is predicted at this stage.
Why is this sunspot bad news?
The timing of this sunspot makes it very concerning. NASA says that the Sun is entering its solar maximum phase, where the solar activities on the surface of the Sun increases significantly. At a time like this, when an active region of such activities faces the Earth directly, it will give out multiple solar storm events. One can only hope that none of them are as strong as the Carrington event, which is considered as the biggest ever solar storm to hit Earth.