Solar flare 2012 will continue to make headlines for many weeks to come. These are the times of solar activity and scientists in NASA have spied an enormous sunspot much bigger than the earth that is gearing up to erupt this week.
Ten days ago scientist spied a sunspot so huge it dwarfed te earth in size. The appearance of such a gigantic sunspot is no surprise since the sun has already entered its active phase in its eleven year cycle of dormancy followed by solar activity.
Scientist measured the sunspot, named AR 1476, as being 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers). Within three days observations from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory spacecraft had made scientist declare that the sunspot would erupt within a week. So far the sunspot has spewed flares and the one this Thursday was especially strong.
An update from the Space Weather Prediction Center, a joint service of NOAA and the National Weather Service this Thursday stated, “Solar activity has been at high levels for the past 24 hours with multiple M-class solar flares observed.”
The observatory recorded a powerful flare raising a perfect solar storm at 12:18 a.m. EDT (0418 GMT) that was registered as a class M5.7 eruption. M-class solar flares are regarded as medium-strength sun storms that have the ability to hurl blasts of radiation and magnetic solar plasma to earth. The activity is limited to eruptions so far and the enormous sunspot has not yet thrown coronal mass ejections earth’s way, that can wreak havoc with earth’s magnetic field and electricity grid.
Scientist rate solar flares as X-class being the strongest. These can interfere with satellites and infrastructure on Earth when we come in its range. The second strongest flares are classed as M-class and these can set off geomagnetic storms that create dazzling northern lights displays on Earth. The lowest are called C-class flares and have little effect on us earthbound sentinels.
So far the sunspot has reached M class eruption, but scientist are predicting stronger eruptions soon as the sunspot seems to be gearing for more activity.
The update from the Space Weather Prediction Center added, “The sunspot, dubbed Active Region 1476, has so far produced seven M-class flares and numerous C-class flares, including two M-class flares on May 9, 2012 that peaked at 8:32 EDT and 10:08 EDT. These flares were all short-lived and there were no associated coronal mass ejections, so we do not expect any geomagnetic storms at Earth.”
It was also reported that the sunspot has so far flared 32 times.
Solar activity started last year with the sun coming out of its eleven year dormancy. Scientist are predicting that the sun will only get busier this year and solar activity would peak in 2013. The current cycle has been dubbed Solar Cycle 24.
We are already experiencing the effects of sun’s diligence as this March two powerful storms may have temporarily shut down military satellites. NASA scientists predict the sun would stay active throughout the beginning of 2014 and would reenter its dormant state later that year.