This gigantic sunspot is so large that it affects the vibration of the sun

A colossal sunspot, slowly returning to Earth’s view on the far side of the Sun, is causing the entire star to vibrate in an unusual way, observations from advanced helioseismology techniques show.

The sunspot in question is AR3664, part of a massive cluster of sunspots that has been compared in scale to several Earths.

Although sunspots themselves are a common occurrence as part of the sun’s eleven-year activity cycle, the size of AR3664 is so immense that it alters the sun’s natural vibration patterns.

Harbinger of storms

Sunspot AR3664 was responsible for the strongest solar storm to hit Earth in more than two decades.

Earth was hit by a series of seven solar storms in the second week of May, causing strong auroras in different parts of the world. At a staggering speed of 48 lakh kilometers per hour, the coronal mass ejections raced through space and crashed into the Earth.

From May 10, the intense activity kicked off a stunning display of auroras in several parts of the world, including India, the rarest of all rare events.

The tremors are caused by sunspot AR3664. (Photo: NASA)

What happens now?

Helioseismologists, scientists who study the Sun’s vibrations and internal structure, have discovered these strange vibrations coming from the region of AR3664 on the far side of the Sun.

Just as seismic waves can reveal details about the Earth’s interior, these solar vibrations provide insight into the inner workings of the sun.

The vibrations caused by AR3664 are not only intriguing from a scientific perspective, but also have potential implications for space weather. Sunspots are known sources of solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which can disrupt radio communications and satellite operations when they interact with Earth’s atmosphere.

As the sun rotates, AR3664 is expected to become directly visible from Earth within a week, allowing astronomers and space weather forecasters to better assess its potential impact. Monitoring such sunspots is critical, especially as Solar Cycle 25 approaches its predicted peak between January and October 2024.

The scientific community is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to directly observe AR3664, as it promises to shed light on the complex interplay between sunspots, solar vibrations and the Sun’s magnetic fields.

Published by:

Sibu Kumar Tripathi

Published on:

May 28, 2024

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