At times, the disruption of magnetic fields near the sunspots can lead to a sudden release of energy called a solar flare. While solar flares are intense bursts of radiation, at times, highly magnetized particulate matter is also let out, which scientists call a coronal mass ejection (CME).
This is why scientists track these sunspots to predict solar flares and CMEs. Sunspot AR3078, located west of the Sun’s central meridian in the southern hemisphere, was relatively active earlier this week and frequently sent out solar flares, including a moderately powerful one on August 16.
The warning of a geomagnetic storm
Earlier this week, the solar scientists at NOAA observed a series of CMEs being let out by the Sun and headed toward the Earth. Since particulate matter takes time to cover the vast distance between the Sun and our planet, scientists can predict when the CME will hit our planet.
Luckily for us, the thick blanket of the atmosphere protects lifeforms from harmful radiation and highly magnetized particles from the Sun. However, spacecraft such as satellites, or even human missions that are placed away from the safety net of the atmosphere, are at risk.
The magnetically charged particles can also cause disruption in the Earth’s magnetosphere, which scientists call a geomagnetic storm. Typically, geomagnetic storms are of low intensity and are classified on a scale of G1-G5, with G1 being the least.