Weather Wise: Sunspots

Posted at 5:50 PM, Feb 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-26 19:50:43-05

A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy with sunspots on the sun. Sunspots are black because the temperatures at the surface are lower for sunspots than for other parts of the sun.

Flares shoot X-rays out into the solar system and can affect radio waves in the upper atmosphere of Earth, hitting our planet at the speed of light. The recent solar flares were strong enough to knock out high-frequency or short-wave radio communication.

Coronal mass ejections occur when a large eruption of plasma spews from the sun, shooting out at a few hundred miles per second taking days to reach Earth. CME's have more potential to damage power grids, cell towers, satellites and other technological infrastructure. In March 1989, a powerful coronal mass ejection the size of roughly 30 Earths hit our planet's magnetic field triggering a blackout that affected millions of people for hours. More recently in 2022, 40 Space X satellite failed to reach orbit because of a strong CME event.

Solar Spot AR-3590 that caused the solar flare is almost the size of 8 earths. This is the strongest sunspot of this current solar cycle. Sunspots like this one could also trigger fantastic aurora borealis.