Solar storm warning: Air traffic disrupted as huge sunspot turns toward Earth | Science | New

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 airline navigation systems. . These sunspots, as they are called, appear darker than their surroundings on the Sun’s surface and can extend for hundreds of millions of miles.

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, the sunspot is “so big it’s changing the way the sun vibrates.”

If the darkened region of the Sun is unleashed releasing a solar flare towards Earth, it could affect the Earth’s magnetic field and disrupt GPS and communications satellites orbiting near the planet, as well as aircraft 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 disrupted.

This prediction suggests that regions in higher northern latitudes could see dazzling auroras, although it’s unclear whether this 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 the star’s vibrations were affected.

Speaking to Live Science, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) project scientist Dean Pesnell said: “The Sun is continuously vibrating due to convection bubbles hitting the surface.”

Temperature differences inside the Sun continually cause hot and cold bubbles to rise and fall, which moves energy and causes vibrations that can be detected by solar observatories like NASA’s SDO.

READ MORE: Solar Storm Horror: Sun’s Blast Threatens Power Grid Outage

Solar flares are triggered by a process called “magnetic reconnection”, in which the geometry of the magnetic field in the Sun’s plasma is changed.

These flares could affect Earth by heating the clouds of electrically charged particles in the Sun’s upper atmosphere to extremely high temperatures, releasing a mass of plasma coronal mass ejections (CMEs),

Pesnell noted that Earth is likely to see solar flares heading towards it and there could be CMEs.

The NASA expert noted: “Solar flares and CMEs are the primary means by which solar activity affects Earth.

“According to my work, higher levels of solar activity mean increased drag on near-Earth orbiting satellites – and satellite operators will lose revenue if this drag de-orbits an operating satellite.”

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