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Giant Sunspot Has Doubled In Size And Is Pointed Right At Earth

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Giant Sunspot Has Doubled In Size And Is Pointed Right At Earth

A giant sunspot just doubled in size in the space of 24 hours and it's pointed right at earth.

But before you activate your doomsday plans, don't fret - experts have reassured it's likely not going to cause any issues on our planet.

The growth of the sunspot – named AR3038 – was announced by SpaceWeather.com, which said on June 20: "Yesterday, sunspot AR3038 was big. Today, it's enormous. The fast-growing sunspot has doubled in size in only 24 hours.

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"AR3038 has an unstable 'beta-gamma' magnetic field that habours energy for M-class solar flares, and it is directly facing Earth."

A sunspot facing the earth doubled in size in the space of 24 hours. Credit: Pixabay
A sunspot facing the earth doubled in size in the space of 24 hours. Credit: Pixabay

For the uninitiated, sunspots are areas on the sun's surface that are cooler, causing them to appear darker.

They emerge in areas where the magnetic fields surrounding the star are particularly strong, and these can often tangle and cross, causing a sudden explosion of energy called a solar flare.

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As outlined by NASA, if a solar flare is particularly intense it has the ability to emit enough radiation to interfere with our radio communications on earth.

However, in the case of AR3038 there's no need to be concerned – according to Robert Steenburgh, the lead for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Forecast Office, the sunspot's growth is pretty standard.

Speaking to USA Today, he said: "This is what sunspots do. Over time, generally, they'll grow. They go through stages, and then they decay."

When asked about the definition of sunspots, he explained: "I guess the easiest way to put it is that sunspots are regions of magnetic activity."

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As for solar flares, Steenburgh said it's like 'the twisting of rubber bands', adding: "If you have a couple of rubber bands twisting around on your finger, they eventually get twisted too much, and they break.

"The difference with magnetic fields is that they reconnect. And when they reconnect, it's in that process that a flare is generated."

Elsewhere, Andrés Muñoz-Jaramillo, lead scientist at the SouthWest Research Institute in San Antonio, similarly told the outlet that we have nothing to worry about.

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"I want to emphasise there is no need to panic," he said. "They happen all the time, and we are prepared and doing everything we can to predict and mitigate their effects. For the majority of us, we don't need to lose sleep over it."

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]

Featured Image Credit: Alamy

Topics: News, Space, NASA

Daisy Phillipson
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