Coronal mass slammed toward Earth as massive sunspot erupts; should we be worried?

Many solar flares have hit Earth in recent months, and more are on the way as the sun continues its 11-year solar cycle. Spaceweather.com is reporting that the Sun has just triggered a coronal mass ejection (CME) that is pouring debris from the Sun toward Earth. There is a risk of geomagnetic storms today when these CMEs travel to Earth.

Sunspot AR3112, which has been in a precarious position for several days, exploded today producing a powerful M-1 class solar flare. Sunspots, as defined by NASA, are black regions on the sun’s surface that harbor strong magnetic fields and form and dissipate rapidly over the course of many solar days or weeks. They form when strong magnetic fields break through the sun’s surface and cool the surrounding region.

Possible causes include the emission of an X-rated solar flare. This solar flare was expected to reach Earth as predicted by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), but the data stream was interrupted before the analysis could be completed. Solar flares are rated from A (weakest) to X (strongest), with A being the weakest and X being the most damaging.

Also Read: In Pictures: From Stars to Planets, check out some stunning photos captured by the Hubble Space Telescope

Then again, this isn’t the first time the sun has ejected such large bursts of energy; in fact it happens very often. In April, NASA also managed to capture an image of a solar flare with the help of the Solar Dynamics Observatory. A potentially dangerous solar flare was identified the same month by the Center of Excellence for Space Sciences of India, also known as CESSI. This solar flare has the potential to disrupt satellite communications and global positioning systems.

Solar flares, by themselves, have no harmful effects on humans; But the discharge of magnetic energy produced by solar flares can wreak havoc on technological equipment. Solar flares occur when magnetic energy is released from the sun.

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