Thanksgiving sunspot: Scientists forecast extreme ‘space weather’ THIS WEEK

A SUNSPOT will appear this Thursday, with potential ramifications for space weather and even Earth, scientists have announced.

PUBLISHED: 12:25, Wed, Nov 25, 2020 | UPDATED: 12:29, Wed, Nov 25, 2020

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The US National Science Foundation's National Solar Observatory (NSO) has forecast a large sunspot that will coincide with Thanksgiving 2020. Sunspots are dark areas that appear on the Sun’s surface, due to their relative coolness compared with other parts.

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Solar flares, which are are sudden explosions of energy, are caused by the violent tangling of magnetic field lines near sunspots.

Since we are in the very early phase of the new solar cycle, the signal from this large spot stands out clearly

Dr Kiran Jain

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Researchers in this NSO study used the novel helioseismology technique, allowing them to "listen" to changing sound waves from the Sun's heart which predict the arrival of sunspots.

Helioseismology was developed by NSO scientists in the 1990s to detect how sound waves interact with the Sun's magnetic fields in its core.

The changes to such sound waves indicate the imminent arrival of new sunspots anticipated to be visible from Earth near the eastern solar limb.

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Thanksgiving sunspot: Scientists forecast extreme ‘space weather’ will occur on ThursdayNASA's Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) image of the Sun shot a very large sunspot in 2004 (Image: NASA)

NSF-funded GONG network uses sound waves to measure changes inside the SunNSF-funded GONG network uses sound waves to measure changes inside the Sun (Image: NSO/AURA/NSF/C.Raftery)

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Dr Alexei Pevtsov, Associate Director for the NSO Integrated Synoptic Program responsible for the prediction, said: "We measured a change in acoustic signals on the far side of the Sun.

"We can use this technique to identify what is happening on the side of the Sun that faces away from Earth days before we can catch a glimpse from here.

“Having up to five days lead time on the presence of active sunspots is extremely valuable to our technology-heavy society."

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