THE SUN has been quite busy the past few weeks.
On Tuesday, our star fired two giant outbursts from its far side during a month of intense solar activity.
A stunning Surface Mass Launch (CME) was captured by Nasa’s STEREO-A spacecraft in the early hours of February 15.
CMEs are giant eruptions that send plasma through space – and the Sun has experienced several eruptions throughout the month.
If they hit Earth, the plumes could trigger geomagnetic storms that knock down satellites and disrupt power grids.
Fortunately, this week’s CME was fired from the side of the Sun, which rotates away from our planet and therefore poses no threat, astronomer Dr Tony Phillips said.
Writing on his website spaceweather.commonitoring solar activity, he said: “This CME won’t hit Earth; it’s moving away, not toward our planet.
“However, if such a CME were to strike, it could create a very powerful geomagnetic storm. We could have dodged a bullet.”
Based on its size, it’s possible the eruption was a Class X flare: The strongest possible type.
“This is only the second most distant active region of this size since September 2017,” astronomer Junwei Zhao of Stanford University’s allergy theory research group told SpaceWeather.
“If this region remains massive as it orbits the Earth-facing side of the Sun, it could give us some interesting flares.”
It’s been a busy month of solar activity. According to Dr. Phillips, the Sun erupted every day in February. Some days have seen many rays of the sun.
Three of them have been classified as the second most powerful flares, class M flares. January saw five class M flares.
One such flare led to a solar storm on January 29 that knocked out 40 SpaceX satellites Temporarily stop working.
The remainder of February’s flares fell into the lighter Class C category.
While it may sound scary, it’s all part of the normal workings of our Sun – so you don’t need to panic.
Astronomers closely monitor the Sun’s activity to ensure that there is plenty of warning before any potential geomagnetic storms hit.
What is a geomagnetic storm?
Geomagnetic storms, caused by the CME, are ejections of hot matter called plasma from the Sun’s outer layer.
They could lead to the appearance of colorful auroras by energizing particles in our planet’s atmosphere.
Each solar storm is graded by severity on a scale of one to five, with G1 described as “minor” and G5 as “extreme”.
At the upper end of the scale, storms wreak havoc on our planet’s magnetic field, which can disrupt electricity and communications networks.
“Hazardous radiation from a fire cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to affect humans on the ground,” Nasa said.
“However – when sufficiently intense – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.”
When do major geomagnetic storms make landfall?
In the past, larger solar flares have wreaked havoc on our planet.
In 1989, a powerful solar eruption sent so many charged particles down to Earth that the Canadian province of Quebec lost power for nine hours.
In addition to causing problems with our technology, they can harm astronauts working on the International Space Station, through exposure to radiation or by interfering with control communications. mission control.
The Earth’s magnetic field helps protect us from the harsher consequences of the Sun’s sparks.
The weaker rays of the sun’s rays – which are much more common – are responsible for auroras such as the Northern Lights.
Those natural light displays are examples of Earth’s magnetosphere being bombarded by the solar wind, creating bright green and blue displays.
The Sun is currently entering a new 11-year solar cycle, which typically sees eruptions and flares grow more intense and extreme.
These events are expected to peak around 2025, and it is expected that the Solar Orbiter will observe all of them as it heads towards its goal of flying within 26 million miles of the sun.
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https://www.the-sun.com/tech/4717589/sun-erupting-non-stop-flares-scientists/ Scientists say the sun ‘has been erupting non-stop this month’ – and ‘HUGE flares are coming’