A 'Dead' Sunspot Just Exploded, Launching A Plasma Ball Straight Toward Earth

A 'dead' sunspot on the surface of the Sun has erupted, and as a result, a massive plasma ball has been blasted straight towards Earth.

According to SpaceWeather.com, on April 11, the "corpse" of the sunspot designated AR2987 erupted and produced a tremendous quantity of radiation, which was later followed by a coronal mass ejection (CME), an outpouring of solar material or plasma. 

A sunspot is formed by contortions in the sun's internal magnetic field, much like a rubber band that has been stretched and released. These solar flares blast massive amounts of radiation into space in all directions and are typically followed by a CME, which is a big localized wave of charged particles.

Solar flares hit Earth within 7 minutes, but CMEs normally take roughly three days to reach Earth. When a CME reaches Earth, the charged particles combine with Earth's oxygen and nitrogen-rich atmosphere which contributes to the development of auroras that are generally known as the Northern and Southern Lights. 

Furthermore, if powerful enough, the CME can create disruptions for GPS locations, high-frequency radio deterioration, and potentially damage electric systems.

As for the CME on its way, authorities estimate it will only generate a G2-level geomagnetic storm on April 14, which is a "moderate" category.

Reference(s): SpaceWeather, ScienceAlert

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