One of the largest and most densely populated sunspot regions observed in more than a decade has appeared on the Sun’s near side relative to Earth – and has begun to unleash a barrage of significantly shaking solar storms the surface of our home star. The emergence of sunspots could make these weeks interesting for Earth, which will soon be in the crosshairs of these eruptive eruptions. dark spots.
The first group of sunspots, named AR3490, turned toward the Sun’s near side on November 18, above the star’s northeast shoulder. The dark spot was quickly followed by another group of sunspots, AR3491, which trailed in its wake, Spaceweather.com reported.
Scientists already knew the sunspot groups were on their way because they had tracked “helioseismic tremors,” or ripples on the sun’s surface, from the region. The sunspot region is “so large that it affects the way the entire sun vibrates,” Spaceweather.com representatives wrote.
Since their appearance, the sunspot groups have split and given rise to new dark spots, including AR3492, AR3495, AR3496 and AR3497, which created a “sunspot archipelago,” according to a news site on astronomy. EarthSky reported.
In total, the massive collection of sunspots stretches about 200,000 kilometers across, or more than 15 times wider than Earth, according to Spaceweather.com.
Related: 15 dazzling images of the sun
Sunspots have already coughed up at least 16 class C and 3 class M solar flares — which are the third and second strongest classes of outbreaks, respectively — over the past 4 days, according to SpaceWeatherLive.com. And experts warn there could be many more of these surges in the coming weeks, as well as potentially Class X flaresthe most powerful type of solar flare.
Impending eruptions could also give rise coronal mass ejections (CME), or huge blobs of charged solar particles, which could crash into Earth and trigger strong geomagnetic storms, which could cause radio blackouts and trigger vibrant auroras.
Astronomers also spotted several large plasma loops, called solar prominences, growing above some of the group’s sunspots. The largest loops rise more than 40,000 miles (64,000 km) above the surface, according to EarthSky, and could break away and throw yourself into space at any time, temporarily leaving behind huge “canyons of fire” on the surface of the sun.
At least three groups of sunspots have also appeared in the Sun’s southern hemisphere in recent days.
The emergence of sunspots is the last sign that the sun is rapidly approaching the explosive peak of its approximately 11-year solar cycle, known as the solar maximumwhich scientists I now predict it will start next year.
During solar maximum, sunspots become much more common And increase in size as the sun’s magnetic fields intertwine, allowing dark spots to grow more easily.
The latest dark spots constitute “probably the largest sunspot region I’ve seen so far in the (current) solar cycle.” Chris Wicklundmeteorologist and aurora photographer, written the (formerly known as Twitter). “The next 14 days could be very interesting,” he added.