Sunspots are patches of darkness on the Sun which are caused by underlying magnetism beneath the surface. However, sometimes that magnetism bubbles up and is released in the form of solar flares, which spew cosmic particles into space. Unfortunately for Earth, scientists have noticed two sunspots on the surface of the Sun which could cause solar storms on our planet.
Cosmos forecasting website Space Weather read: “Two sunspot groups are emerging on the Earth-facing side of the sun.
“Sunspots are islands of magnetism floating on the surface of the sun. Like all magnets they have poles, + and -.
“Sunspot AR2735 has a simple bipolar magnetic structure that identifies it as a member of old Solar Cycle 24.
“The other sunspot, as yet unnumbered, has a more complicated structure with multiple magnetic poles.
“Mixed-polarity magnetic fields can criss-cross, and explode – a process known as ‘magnetic reconnection’ underlying solar flares.”
The two potential solar storms could be cause for concern for scientists, with the Met Office recently warning we will face a monumental solar storm in the future, which could knock out Britain’s technology and cost the UK almost £16billion in damages.
The country could be plunged into a blackout because it is not prepared enough for powerful solar storms, the Met Office told ministers.
The weather forecaster believes the UK does not have sufficient infrastructure to prepare ourselves for such an event.
A researcher for the Met Office said: “We find that for a one-in-100-year event, with no space weather forecasting capability, the gross domestic product loss to the United Kingdom could be as high as £15.9bn.
“With existing satellites nearing the end of their life, forecasting capability will decrease in coming years, so if no further investment takes place, critical infrastructure will become more vulnerable to space weather.”