Scientists discover mysterious "sparks" on the Sun that could help predict solar flares and magnetic storms

Ulyana VinogradovaLife
Researchers have been observing this since the 1970s

Scientists at NorthWest Research Associates (NWRA) in Boulder, Colorado, have discovered mysterious "sparks" on the Sun. They are believed to help predict solar flares and magnetic storms.

This is reported by Live Science. It is noted that solar flares are powerful bursts of solar radiation and are often preceded by a pre-flare spark (to view the photo, scroll to the bottom of the page).

This discovery was made after studying long-term data from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), a satellite that has been observing the Sun since 2010. At the same time, researchers have been observing similar phenomena from ground-based observatories since the 1970s and 80s.

"Images of the sun definitely help scientists and forecasters understand when an active region can be the source of flares," the scientists say.

Experts have studied SDO data for almost a decade, zooming in on active regions of the Sun known as sunspots.

"Dark regions are places where the Sun's magnetic field is particularly active due to deeper distortions within the star. The distortions cause the Sun's magnetic field to become entangled. And when these magnetic field lines return to their original shape, a huge burst of energy is released from the surface. These explosions can manifest themselves either as a solar flare or a coronal mass ejection," the scientists say.

According to them, solar flares are intense bursts of X-rays and energy that shine in all directions. They are explosions of highly charged particles that burst out in a certain direction. At the same time, such flares move rather slowly, at a speed of 250 to 3000 kilometres per second. Thus, it can take several days for the solar energy to sweep across the Earth.

Such phenomena can cause damage to energy systems and telecommunications on Earth, but they are generally harmless to humans and all living things.

The researchers found that solar flares are often associated with a moment of brightness and they occurred the day before flares in the same area of the Sun.

"Think of it as predicting a volcanic eruption - earthquakes near an active volcano tell scientists that the underground magma is on the move and could lead to an eruption. Scientists therefore monitor earthquakes and set up models to predict when an eruption might occur. But no single earthquake is a harbinger of a volcanic eruption. In the future, combining all of this information from the surface and through the Sun's outer atmosphere should allow forecasters to make more accurate predictions about when and where solar flares will occur," the scientists concluded.


As reported by OBOZREVATEL, two strong magnetic storms are expected in February 2023, as well as another one, but of lesser intensity. Weather-dependent people should be prepared and be aware of the impact of solar activity on their health.

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