Friday, May 17, 2013

Uh Oh: Massive Sunspot Spewing at Earth

X1.2 class solar flare on May 14, 2013
X1.2 class solar flare on May 14, 2013 - NASA/SDO
May 17, 2013 - Okay, this might be bad. There's a big, very active sunspot called "Region AR1748" that's been spitting some very big solar flares over the past week. "A huge explosion on the sun will deal Earth a glancing blow today (May 17)," says Space.com. (See video below.)

"The sun storm erupted late Tuesday during a powerful solar flare -- the fourth unleashed by a single sunspot in just 48 hours -- and hurled a massive cloud of charged particles out into space at millions of miles an hour."

AR1748 produced four X-class flares within 48 hours
Busy, very busy. Region AR1748 produced the first four X-class solar flares of 2013 in less than 48 hours. That's no small feat (see image, left).

The big blob of particles and stuff is called a coronal mass ejection (CME), and it's really a lot -- a lot -- of stuff.

In fact, it was "billions of tons of solar particles" worth of stuff, reports UPI. And it's traveling at extreme speeds. "The CME which erupted at 5:24 a.m EDT left the sun at speeds of around 745 miles per second, and could cause a space weather phenomenon called a geomagnetic storm when it connects with the outside of the Earth's magnetic envelope known as the magnetosphere."

But should we be afraid? Space.com says that "this one isn't aimed directly at us," says Space.com, "so there's no cause for alarm, experts say." Whew. That's better, but.... what about next time?


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