sunspot 1990

Massive Sunspot Rotating Around The Sun For The Third Time

A massive and significantly strong sunspot is currently making its third pass across a “complex region” of the Sun, according to NASA. Sunspots like the one currently being tracked by NASA and NOAA, are part of the active Sun regions which typically produce large solar flares and coronal mass ejections.

Sunspot AR1990 was previously labeled AR1967 while on its second rotation around the Sun, and AR1944, during its initial trip around the face of the Sun. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, the largest solar flare of 2014 was unleashed by the Sun late last week. The huge X Class solar flare erupted from sunspot AR1990, according to NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. The agency’s spacecraft recorder captured the gigantic bursts of plasma from the coronal mass ejection – CME. X Class solar flares are the strongest type of solar storms. The massive solar flare was not Earth-directed, so the power grid was not in jeopardy.

If the 4.9 X Class solar flare had been directed towards Earth, the CME could have likely prompted a significant geomagnetic storm. During such a storm charged particles smash against the Earth’s magnetic field. The Sun is currently in the most active phase of its 11-year solar cycle.

An increase in solar flares near the peak of the 11-year Sun cycle shouldn’t but thought of as unusual, but since this solar maximum has been “noticeably mellow” scientists are taking note of the uptick in activity. The Sun remained unusually quiet over the summer months, prompting surprise among NOAA and NASA weather experts when multiple M-class and X-class solar flares began occurring in October.

Solar flares are essentially strong radiation bursts, but scientists do not feel that harmful radiation can pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and cause physical problems for humans and animals. NASA and NOAA experts cannot seem to agree on solar flare predictions for the remainder of this 11-year cycle. The space weather researchers only discovered how solar flares were formed during the past 20 years.

Concerns that a solar storm equal to the magnitude of the 1859 Carrington Event could hit the Earth prompted some scientists to urge Congress to quickly address the power grid’s frailties. The governing body chose to ignore the experts’ pleas. Statistically speaking, a massive solar storm is likely to occur about every 100 to 200 years. During the Carrington Event, the Earth was bombarded with a wave of “energetic particles” and then a massive solar flare. Telegraph poles and wires caught fire and papers on operator’s desks were also reportedly set ablaze.