The sunspot that threatens the Earth

It is one of the spots visible on the surface of our Sun. It doubled in size in just one day, astronomers warn. Our planet will remain in their sights for a few more days. How dangerous is the sunspot that threatens Earth?

Sunspot AR3038 grew to 2.5 times the size of Earth on the night of June 19-20. It reached 32,000 kilometers in diameter.

The sunspot threatening Earth is gigantic, three times the size of Earth.
Earth-threatening sunspot is gigantic, three times the size of Earth.

Huge sunspot

“Yesterday it was big. Today, it’s huge. It has an unstable beta-gamma magnetic field. It’s building up the energy for M-class (medium-sized) solar flares. And it’s pointed directly at the Earth.” reported It is a website dedicated to tracking news about geomagnetic storms and other space phenomena.

Sunspots are somewhat similar to dark patches on the surface of the Sun. Powerful magnetic fields exert their forces there. They are created by the flow of electric charges in the solar plasma.

The main danger consists in solar flares or radiation peaks. They appear as a result of the release of energy accompanied by explosive jets of solar material. They are also known as coronal mass ejections.

Two major solar flares were recorded in April and May. These caused blackouts in the Atlantic Ocean, Australia and Asia. Geomagnetic storms travel at near-light speed. Therefore, they take only 8 minutes to reach the Earth from a distance of almost 150 million kilometers.

Our magnetic field has protected us so far.
Our magnetic field has protected us so far.

Blackouts on Earth

However, sunspots themselves are not as dangerous as they appear at first glance. The eruptions that AR3038 could produce are of class M. These “generally cause brief radio blackouts affecting the Earth’s polar regions. They include small radiation storms, writes the European Space Agency.

Sunspots can also shed solar material. But the Earth’s magnetic field is so strong that it absorbs it. This gives rise to powerful geomagnetic storms. These storms can even paralyze the internet.

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