Solar storm alert! Sunspot AR3590 sparks aurora anticipation amid geomagnetic storm fears

152 views 10:54 pm 0 Comments March 3, 2024

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In a celestial dance that has both scientists and skywatchers excited, the colossal Sunspot AR3590, which recently unleashed the most potent solar flare in over half a decade towards Earth, is now beginning to wane as it rotates to the far side of the Sun. Despite its current retreat, experts warn of a potential resurgence in two weeks, reigniting concerns about a geomagnetic storm. Although a scheduled Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) predicted to interact with Earth’s magnetic field on March 2nd has yet to materialize, NOAA forecasters speculate that it might be belatedly en route, possibly impacting our planet on March 3rd.

Celestial Light Show

If this cosmic rendezvous occurs, the Arctic Circle is expected to be adorned with vibrant aurora display, illuminating the polar skies, as reported by a spaceweather.com report.

Over the past two weeks, astronomers have been captivated by the sheer magnitude and dynamism of Sunspot AR3590, a temporary dark area on the Sun’s surface resulting from intense magnetic activity. These enigmatic regions, cooler yet still scorching compared to terrestrial standards, have drawn attention from astronomers for unleashing Solar Cycle 25’s most potent solar flare, boasting an impressive X6.3 magnitude. At its zenith, AR3590 rivalled the historic sunspot observed by Carrington, underscoring the intensity of solar activity, according to reports.

NOAA’s forecast underscores the potential for R1-R2 (Minor-Moderate) radio blackouts through March 5th, emphasising the imperative for sustained vigilance in monitoring solar weather conditions.

Beyond Earth’s view, the influence of sunspot AR3590 extends, evidenced by observations from the Mars rover Perseverance. Nestled within the Jezero crater, Perseverance has captured striking images of AR3590 using its MASTCAM (stereo mast camera). If AR3590 manages to endure, there is the prospect of it reappearing in mid-March, visible once again from Earth.

As AR3590 presently dims, space weather forecasts hint at the continued potential for minor to moderate radio blackouts in the coming days. Should the sunspot rekindle its strength on the far side, it may catapult more energetic CMEs toward Earth later this month.

Solar Activity

As AR3590 prepares to pivot away from the Earth-facing side of the sun, lingering concerns persist about its future behaviour. Should the sunspot endure without decay, the risk of Earth-directed flares upon its return in mid-March looms large.

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