What does this terrifying smile on the surface of the sun mean?

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This eerie photo of the sun was captured by NASA just days before Halloween. We see, in the band of UV rays, many jets of matter in the solar corona. But also strange black spots in the center that seem to draw a smile as if the sun had turned into a giant emoji.

However, it would be wrong to think that the sun really “smiles” at us. In fact, the spots that we see on the surface of the star are the sign of an extremely powerful peak of activity – and of imminent ejections of charged particles towards space that the Earth is likely to encounter.

There’s nothing nice about that smile on the surface of the sun, here’s why

These spots are indeed marked both by a lower temperature than their immediate environment – ​​and a peak of magnetic activity of such power that tons of matter can thus be torn from the yet extreme gravity of the star.

In this case, we can see that these tasks are immense, especially compared to the size of our planet. The sun is indeed some 109 larger than the Earth. This means that it is possible to place the Earth several dozen times in the “smile” that we see in the image.

In any case, this image indicates particularly intense solar activity at the moment. The sun indeed experiences peaks of activity every 11 years, and we are right in the middle of one of these periods.

These peaks of activity would be due to a reversal of the magnetic poles of the star. When this happens, a period of instability ensues, with the appearance of many sub-clusters like the ones that produce these immense tasks.

The Earth is quite well prepared against these periods. The planet’s magnetic field and its thick atmosphere stop all ionizing radiation, which therefore poses no danger to humans and animals on the ground.

It is nevertheless possible to observe more intense aurora borealis, especially around the polar circle and even, exceptionally, at lower latitudes if the peak of activity is particularly intense. But when it comes to infrastructure and satellites, that’s a whole other story.

In space, material ejected from the sun can damage or even completely destroy orbiting satellites. And on Earth, electrical and communications networks can be seriously damaged by this type of solar storm.

When charged particles encounter the Earth’s magnetic shield, it can intensify and interact with metal wire networks by induction. This can cause blackouts, fire outbreaks and other destruction.

In 1859 an intense solar storm caused the telegraph networks to trip. Since then, however, no similar phenomenon has been observed on Earth. The reason is simple: during its peaks of activity the sun does not emit charged particles in all directions.

For an exceptional phenomenon to occur on Earth, the planet must cross the charged particles in question. However, this smile is proof that we are entering a dangerous period. The models rather predicted its arrival between 2023 and 2026, so the sun is a little ahead.

It should also be noted that solar activity should intensify in the coming years, before reaching a peak and then falling. There will therefore be many opportunities for the sun to emit dangerous ejections of particles and the Earth to cross them…



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