The Sun let out a double solar flare leading to temporary radio blackouts
A sunspot that astronomers have been tracking for the past few weeks let out two solar flares that temporarily caused radio blackouts in Asia and Australia, Live Science reported.
In the past week, solar flares have been in the news after the Sun let out its most powerful burst in the last five years. Prior to that, some more flares, not as powerful, have been recorded in the past month, as our Sun has entered an active phase of its solar weather cycle. This means that we will likely see more flares in the coming few years, possibly even stronger ones.
Get more updates on this story and more with The Blueprint, our daily newsletter: Sign up here for free.
Sunspots and solar flares
Sunspots are areas of the Sun's surface that appear darker since they are comparatively cooler than other parts of the Sun's surface. This occurs after magnetic fields in the region grow stronger and block the outflow of gas from the Sun's interior.
The magnetic field lines are rearranged but rather in an explosive way that results in the eruption of radiation from the solar surface, known as solar flares. When massive particles are sent out from the Sun's atmosphere, it is called a coronal mass ejection or CME.
The recent solar flare was associated with the sunspot dubbed AR 2993, which has an area of hundreds of millions of square miles, Live Science reported. This is the same sunspot that gave us the powerful flares over the Easter weekend. This time around, however, the flares are comparatively of lower intensity, as they were recorded in the M class.
Impact of solar flares
The double eruption of radiation that happened in quick succession caused some radio blackouts in regions of Australia and Asia, the Live Science report said. A flare directed towards the Earth carries the risk of blacking out all radio communication as well as disrupting power grids. Earlier this year, a geomagnetic storm put out over 40 of SpaceX's Starlink satellites before reaching their designated orbits.
However, there are also some pleasant results of a large solar flare. When powerful flares interact with the Earth's magnetic field, they produce beautiful auroras that can be seen further south from the poles than they usually are. With more solar flares predicted in the coming days, the chances of seeing auroras from the comfort of your homes also increase.
With many scientists still unhappy with the IAU's definition of "planet," it's possible the debate will never be resolved!