One of the biggest sunspots in years is emerging on the sun today. Hours ago it produced a C-class solar flare and a minor radio blackout over the Indian Ocean. This sunspot, if it holds itself together, will face Earth for the next two weeks as it rotates across the face of the sun, potentially setting the stage for a sustained stretch of solar activity.
This new sunspot group is rotating into view over the sun’s southeastern limb–and it’s a big one. At least three dark cores the size of Earth are inset in this magnetic map from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:
The +/- polarity of the sunspot group marks it as a member of Solar Cycle 25. This comes as no surprise. Almost every sunspot this year has belonged to the new solar cycle. Solar Cycle 25 is taking a firm hold on the sun.
Earlier today (Nov. 3rd at 0703 UT) the sunspot produced a minor C1-class solar flare. A pulse of UV radiation from the flare briefly ionized Earth’s upper atmosphere, causing a low-frequency radio blackout over the Indian Ocean: map. Mariners and ham radio operators in the area may have noticed unusual propagation effects at frequencies below ~5 MHz.
This sunspot, if it holds itself together, will face Earth for the next two weeks as it rotates across the face of the sun, potentially setting the stage for a sustained stretch of solar activity and solar flares.
It is worth noting that the Carrington Event, a powerful geomagnetic storm on September 1–2, 1859, during solar cycle 10 (1855–1867) was during a period of low solar activity preceding it.
It caused a solar coronal mass ejection (CME) hitting Earth’s magnetosphere and induced the largest geomagnetic storm on record.
If such an event occurred today, it would like create havoc with our sensitive electronics, power grids, and space satellites.