There is a solar flare coming that is likely to hit Earth, NOAA has revealed. Solar flares are spewed out by our Sun and can be several times larger than the Earth and cause significant damage through geomagnetic storms. To better understand these solar flares, researchers have successfully replicated them in a laboratory. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters have alerted that there are chances of a solar flare today itself, SpaceWeather.com reported. The possibility of a solar flare is 40 percent and that too of an M-class intensity.
AR3280, a rapidly developing sunspot, is probably the origin of the impending solar flare. It possesses a beta-gamma magnetic field that is unstable and has the potential for M-class solar flares. Solar flares are categorized into A, B, C, M, and X classes according to their strength. An X-class solar flare is considered the strongest, while an M-class solar flare is the second most powerful.
Active regions on the Sun, usually characterized by sunspot groups and strong magnetic fields, are the typical sites for solar flares. As these magnetic fields undergo changes, they can become unstable and discharge energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation, which manifests as solar flares.
Impact of Solar Slare on Earth
The worrying part is that the sunspot is almost directly facing Earth, SpaceWeather.com added in its report. What effect will it have on Earth? Although Earth’s magnetosphere is effective in blocking solar flares, some charged particles manage to penetrate through. These high-energy particles can result in magnetic disruptions referred to as geomagnetic storms or substorms, which can give rise to beautiful auroras, also known as the Northern Lights.
When solar particles collide with Earth, they can interfere with radio communications and the power grid by impacting the planet’s magnetic field. These effects can lead to power and radio blackouts lasting from a few hours to several days. However, electricity grid complications are rare and only occur during major solar flares.
Tech behind solar flare predictions
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) monitors Solar Flares and Sun’s behaviour using its DSCOVR satellite which became operational in 2016. The recovered data is then run through the Space Weather Prediction Center and the final analysis is prepared. The satellite tracks different measurements of the Sun and its atmospheres such as temperature, speed, density, degree of orientation, and frequency of the solar particles.