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A monstrous sunspot, which can be easily seen by a properly shielded naked eye, is threatening the Earth. Sunspots are the solar system’s active regions that look like dark spots. These are caused by powerful magnetic activity and can cause flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. These flares intimidate power and communication systems when directed to the Earth.
The sunspot dubbed as AR 12192 appeared on 17th Oct on the sun’s eastern side. Over the past few days, it has grown bigger and is now almost 80,000 miles across, which equals to the size of planet Jupiter, the kind that has not been seen for a long time. The AR 12192 is so far the largest of the current 11-year solar cycle that started six years ago in January 2008.
NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is currently monitoring the massive sunspot revealed that it has already spewed X-class flares; one on 19th Oct and the other on 22nd Oct, causing high frequency radio blackouts. X-class flares are categorized as the most powerful of solar flares and they are linked with solar radiation storms mostly if they come with CMEs.
Thus far, sunspot AR 12192 has not directed CMEs to the Earth’s direction, but it has already produced numerous flares including two X-class flares, eight M-class flares, which are of medium strength, and 27 less powerful C-class flares. The sunspot brewed X1.6 flare, which created a very intense eruption in the lower corona of the sun, NASA’s SDO captured this Wednesday.
NASA said, “the sun’s active region named as AR 12192 has produced significant solar flares. At the moment, active regions are more common as we are in what’s called solar maximum, which is the peak of the sun’s activity, occurring approximately every 11 years.”
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters predicted more solar flares with 95% probability that the sun will spawn M-class flares and 55% odds of X-flares within the next 24 hours.
NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center stated, “None of the CMEs linked to these events are expected to be geo-effective so far, though, forecasters will keep an eye out for both CME activity and solar radiation storm possibility as the region approaches center disk.”
Formerly, the largest sunspot was spotted in 1947, which was nearly 3 times as big as the AR 12192.