Solar Flares: Monster Sunspot Growing Fast, NASA Warns Solar Storms Possible

Tara Dodrill

A sunspot large enough to "swallow six Earths" has been spotted by NASA. The space agency is warning that solar storms could occur this week if the sunspot continues to swell. The massive sunspot detected by the Solar Dynamics Observatory grew ever larger during the past 48 hours.

The potential solar flare reportedly evolved quickly over the past two days, Yahoo News notes. The sunspot is a collection of dark spots on the surface of the Sun. Sunspots are cooler than the solar material that surrounds them and form shifting magnetic fields.

NASA spokeswoman Karen Fox had this to say about potential solar flares:

"It has grown to over six Earth diameters across, but its full extent is hard to judge since the spot lies on a sphere, not a flat disk. This is a fairly unstable configuration that scientists know can lead to eruptions of radiation on the sun called solar flares."

One of the biggest concerns surrounding solar flares is the ability the storms have to take down our antiquated power grid. If a massive solar flare is directed at Earth, the fiscal destruction could be legendary. Both NASA and NOAA experts estimate the potential damage of such a direct hit would be in the trillions.

The last major solar flare to directly impact Earth was in 1859, the Carrington Event. Telegraph wires reportedly snapped in half and caused multiple blazes. The folks of the 1800s were far less impacted by the solar flare than we would be today. Due to the computerized equipment inside vehicles built after the 1950s, nearly anything on four wheels (or two) would come to a screeching halt.

Faraday cages are the best defense for protecting computers, televisions, generators, and other electronic equipment. If the enormous sunspot detected by NASA turns into an Earth-directed solar flare, we could quickly find ourselves in a Little House on the Prairie style existence.

Are you prepped to survive a massive solar flare?

[Image Via: NASA]