A perpendicular sunspot with its magnetic field rotated by 90 degrees was spotted on the Earth-facing solar disk. This is a very unusual sight and has scientists confused. Can this be the onset of a massive solar storm?
As we near the peak of the 25th solar cycle of the Sun, which is due in 2023, the Sun is behaving more erratically. The increasing number of sunspots have been showing signs of peculiarity lately. Just a couple of days ago, we witnessed a sunspot which grew 10 times in size and became a part of a dual sunspot cluster. And today, a new sunspot has been observed which is displaying a very peculiar magnetic field. Instead of horizontal magnetic fields, this sunspot has them vertically, rotated at 90-degrees. This is an extremely strange phenomenon and has confused the scientists on what it means. And the bigger question is whether it can cause an unprecedented solar storm? Read on.
The phenomenon was reported by SpaceWeather.com which stated, “New sunspot AR3088 is emerging in the sun’s southern hemisphere. Its magnetic field is not normal. Shown above is a map of magnetic fields on the sun. AR3088 is inset. According to Hale’s Law, the sunspot’s magnetic poles should be arranged +/-, that is, positive (+) on the left and negative (-) on the right. Instead, they are rotated 90 degrees; positive (+) is on top and negative (-) is on the bottom”.
This phenomenon has alerted the scientists as it is not clear at the moment what this actually means. “This is a rare “perpendicular sunspot,” with magnetic poles orthogonal to the sun’s equator. What’s going on? Something unusual may be happening to the sun’s magnetic dynamo beneath the surface where this sunspot is growing. We’ll keep an eye on AR3088 to see what happens next”, it added.
Orthogonal magnetic fields on a sunspot create a solar storm scare
While it is difficult to understand the overall impact that this sunspot can cause on the Sun, one theory suggests that this can result in conflicting magnetic fields that can make the sunspot AR3088 unstable and more explosive. As such, if it does explode, the resultant solar storm can be extremely destructive. Further, we do not know how an orthogonal magnetic field will affect the Earth’s magnetosphere. The result can be catastrophic.