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Sunspot awakes from slumber to douse Earth in radiation which downed radio signals

Daily Express logo Daily Express 22/05/2021 Sean Martin
Sunspot awakes from slumber to douse Earth in radiation which downs radio signals © SPACE WEATHER Sunspot awakes from slumber to douse Earth in radiation which downs radio signals

NASA satellites have spotted a sunspot on the Sun which is ploughing ultraviolet radiation into the solar system. A few waves of the radiation have glanced Earth, leaving some parts of the globe without radio frequencies below 20MHz.

Solar flares can be detrimental to radio waves as when they hit the atmosphere, ionisation occurs which saps energy from radio waves.

The sunspot in question has been dubbed AR2824 which was first found last week.

However, it went quiet for a few days before waking up and blasting solar flares into the cosmos.

Dr Tony Philips of astronomy site Space Weather wrote on his blog: "After nearly a week of somnolent quiet, sunspot AR2824 is flaring again.

a star filled sky: solar flare © ESA solar flare

"An impulsive C4.8-class flare during the late hours of May 21st (1928 UT) was followed by an even stronger C6.1-flare on May 22nd (0256 UT).

"AR2824 is now strobing Earth with pulses of ultraviolet radiation.

"Waves of ionisation rippling through Earth's upper atmosphere have caused shortwave radio blackouts over North America on May 21st and southeast Asia on May 22nd.

"Ham radio operators, aviators and mariners might have noticed unusual propagation at frequencies below ~20 MHz."

solar storm © GETTY solar storm

Sunspots are dark patches on the Sun which are typically cooler than the rest of the star.

When experts say they are 'cooler', the average temperature of a sunspot still exceeds 3,500 degrees Celsius - although this is a drop from the average Sun surface of 5,500C.

They are typically cooler as sunspots are areas of strong magnetic fields.

The magnetism is so strong that it actually keeps some of the heat from escaping.

sun © EXPRESS sun

However, as the magnetic field builds, it increases pressure in the sunspot which can erupt as a solar flare.

For the most part, sunspots and the resulting solar flares are relatively harmless.

Aside from downing lower radio frequencies, this current sunspot is not expected to inflict much damage on Earth.

Dr Philips continued on Space Weather: "So far there is no sign of Earth-directed CMEs from these explosions; no geomagnetic storms are in the offing. However, stay tuned for updates."

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