These large sunspots have stable magnetic fields that pose no threat for strong solar flares. Credit: SDO/HMI
It’s been the quietest period of sunspot activity on our Sun for seven years but…A big Sunspot is facing Earth.
In a year of few sunspots, AR2645 is remarkable.
The young spot has quickly grown from an almost invisible speck into a sprawling behemoth more than 120,000 km wide, with multiple dark cores larger than Earth.
And, it is directly facing our planet:AR2645 has a ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class (moderately strong) solar flares.
Any such explosions while the sunspot faces Earth could ionize the top of our planet’s atmosphere and alter the normal propagation of radio transmissions around the globe.
Shortwave radio blackouts are possible if the sunspot erupts.
Despite its potential, AR2645 has so far been quiet, emitting only a crackling of minor C-flares with minimum effect on Earth.
NOAA forecasters estimate a 10% chance of more potent M-flares in the next 24 hours.