The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center has issued an Official Space Weather Advisory stating that two very intense centers of activity have emerged on the sun. One of them, Sunspot 484, has grown into one of the biggest sunspots in years, and it's now about the size of the planet Jupiter. It may eventually become bigger than the largest one ever recorded, which took place on April 2, 2001.
Region 484 has developed with unusual speed. The region produced an X-Class solar flare on October 19, but earthly effects were minimal because the eruption was not pointing in our direction. However, any eruption occurring during the next week will be pointing directly or nearly directly toward Earth and will affect us.
In addition, the LASCO instrument aboard the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) indicates another active region rotating toward us behind Region 484. This new region has already produced two violent eruptions. According to the Space Environment Center, "these eruptions may herald the arrival of a volatile active center with the potential to impact various Earth systems."
If strong eruptions impact the Earth in sequence, they will cause a thinning of the planet's magnetosphere which will result in disruptions to electrical systems, as well as weather effects. This period of solar activity, while intense, is not the most intense period ever recorded, which peaked in 1959.
Does what's going on in space really determine what happens to us? A noted scientist says yes, it does.
To see a 4-day video image of Sunspot 484,click here.
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