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Gigantic Sunspot On Sun Larger Than Carrington Event Solar Flare

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Gigantic Sunspot On Sun Larger Than Carrington Event Solar Flare
On October 18th, a massive sunspot rolled into view as sun observers stared, amazed. Labeled AR 12912, the sunspot is currently the largest discovered on the sun in the last 24 years.

Active sunspots, which create very intense magnetic fields and, usually, massive solar flares, are measured in size based on percentage of solar hemisphere the area covers. 1 micro-hemisphere represents about 600,000 square miles. This particular region of the sun is currently 2,750 MH.

This makes the sunspot even larger than the one that produced the well-known Carrington Event on September 1, 1859, which was approximately 2,300 MH.

That doesn’t mean it’s guaranteed to produce another Carrington Event style flare. The largest sunspot ever measured was one that was 3,080 MH on November 18th, 1990 – and that one never resulted in a destructive solar flare event.




A Buildup or a Dud?

The current AR 12192 sunspot has already fired off 10 significant solar flares in the time that it’s been observed by scientists.

So far, scientists observed six of the largest X-class solar flares, and four M-class flares (about one-tenth the strength of X-class flares).

Two of the X-class flares – one on October 19th and one on October 22nd – caused high-frequency radio blackouts. The sunspot has yet to direct any CME (coronal mass ejection) directly toward Earth.

If it did, the effects would likely be far more dramatic. (2)

sunspot-activity

What’s Coming Next?

As AR 12192 started to make its way around the far side of the Sun on October 30, scientists are now waiting to see what form it will be in when it comes back around into view in a couple of weeks. Will it grow further or decay? Will there be even larger solar flares, and will they be accompanied by CME’s?

The effects of the October round of flares amounted to degraded high frequency radio wave communications, as well as a slight disruption of GPS services.

The largest concern among experts whenever there’s a risk of a direct CME toward Earth, is the effect it could have on the Earth’s electrical grid.

As we recently described in the past here at Top Secret Writers, the Carrington Event in 1859 stands as the clearest example of what a direct CME could do to technology on Earth.

carrington-drawing

At 11:18 AM on September 1st in 1859, Richard Carrington visually observed a coronal mass ejection while sketching the patterns of a sunspot on the Sun. Less than 24 hours later, there were multicolored auroras visible all around the Earth. Most shockingly telegraph systems – the only system on Earth at the time with electrical lines scattered across the landscape – had induced electrical currents so high that it set telegraph paper on fire.

Geomagnetic storms even smaller than the Carrington Event have disrupted Earth technologies through the years. For example, on August 4th, 1972, a solar flare took out long-distance communication systems throughout Illinois. On March 13, 1989, geomagnetic storms melted power transformers in New Jersey and cut off electrical power from Hydro Quebec in Canada. That event caused 6 million people to lose power for 9 hours.

Those events were a fraction of the strength of the Carrington Event.

Tracking Solar Activity

Many observers are so concerned by the effect another Carrington Event could have on society that whole communities of end of the world “preppers” are focused on monitoring solar events at websites like the Space Weather Prediction center run by NOAA.

space-weather

There are a number of other services available for live monitoring of solar events, if that’s the kind of thing you’re interested in:

SpaceWeatherLive.com – Subscribe for alert emails about impending geomagnetic storms, space radiation, flares and CME’s.
Space Weather Now – Another NOAA page that provides more of a real-time dashboard with a solar cycle progression chart, Solar Wind gauges, latest solar X-Ray images, and more.
Space Weather Prediction Center – One more NOAA text-based alert page updated with the latest message codes detailing the most recent solar activity.
FlareAware – As crazy as it sounds, this is a paid service that issues instant alerts about the latest solar-based activities that could impact your life.
SolarHam – Probably one of the coolest looking solar activity dashboard pages set up to help Amateur Radio operators stay aware of the latest solar storms that could affect radio transmissions around the world.

Many people – including many scientists – believe that the next solar event the size of the Corrington Event isn’t a matter of if but when. (3) Whether the AR 12192 sunspot represents just such a scenario remains an unanswered question. Some observers would say that the odds of it are vanishingly small.

However, whether it’s the AR 12192 or a larger sunspot in coming years – it’s likely that such an event could occur in this lifetime. Are you prepared?

References & Image Credits:
(1) NASA.gov
(2) Tech Times
(3) National Geographic
(4) Harvard.edu

Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com

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