Experts have warned that a massive sunspot on the far side of the sun faces us this weekend, which could lead to a potential geomagnetic storm that disrupts satellites and even wreaks havoc on air navigation systems. These sunspots, as they are called, appear darker than their circumference on the surface of the Sun and can extend for hundreds of millions of kilometers.
Sunspots are the result of magnetic disturbances in the photosphere – the lowest layer of the Sun’s atmosphere – these disturbances exposing the star’s cooler layers below.
According to experts from Spaceweather.com, the sunspot is “so large that it changes the way the sun vibrates”.
If the dark region of the Sun were to be swept away by the release of a solar flare towards Earth, it could affect the Earth’s magnetic field, disrupt the global positioning system (GPS) and communication satellites in orbit close to the planet, and affect air navigation systems.
The US-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Space Weather Prediction Center predicted that over the weekend the geomagnetic field around Earth would be unstable.
This prediction indicates that regions in higher northern latitudes could see dazzling auroras, although it’s unclear whether they will turn into a full-fledged solar storm.
While the current sunspot was on the far side of the sun, scientists were able to track it by studying how it affects the vibrations of the star.
“The sun is constantly vibrating due to convection bubbles hitting the surface,” NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) project scientist Dean Besnell told Live Science.
Temperature differences inside the Sun cause hot and cold bubbles to constantly rise and fall, producing energy and causing vibrations that can be detected by solar observatories such as NASA’s SDO.
Read more: Solar Storm Horror: Sunburn threatens to crash the power grid
Solar flares are powered by a process called “magnetic reconnection”, in which the geometry of the magnetic field in the sun’s plasma is changed.
These explosions can affect the Earth by heating the clouds of electrically charged particles in the Sun’s upper atmosphere to extremely high temperatures, releasing a mass of dirty coronal mass plasmas (CMEs).
Bisnell noted that Earth would likely see solar flares heading towards it, and there could be solar flares.
A NASA expert noted, “Solar flares and CMEs are the primary means by which solar activity affects Earth.
“In my business, higher levels of solar activity mean more clouds on satellites in closer Earth orbit – and satellite operators would lose revenue if that cloud dissolved from a planet’s orbit. working satellite.
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