Sunspot 1302 is Big, Bad, and Coming Our Way
Behemoth sunspot 1302 unleashed another strong flare on Saturday morning--an X1.9-category blast at 5:40 am EDT. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the extreme ultraviolet flash.
The movie also shows a shadowy shock wave racing away from the blast site. This is a sign that the blast produced a coronal mass ejection (CME) that could deliver a glancing blow to Earth's magnetic field.
Since the X1.9-flare, active region (AR) 1302 has unleashed M8.6 and M7.4 flares on Sept. 24 and an M8.8 flare early on Sept. 25. None of the blasts have been squarely Earth-directed, but this could change as the sunspot turns toward our planet in the days ahead. AR1302 is growing and shows no immediate signs of quieting down.
Studying the activity of the Sun can help astrobiologists understand how our solar system's host star effects the climate and habitability of our planet, Earth.