A huge spot on the Sun is getting bigger and pointing towards Earth – but there is nothing to worry about yet.
Numerous news reports pointed to the growing spot and suggested that there could be reason to fear. It had grown dramatically – doubling in size over a space of 24 hours – and could send out a burst of intense radiation.
But the solar weather is actually relatively relaxed. There are no major flares expected from the Sun, and none have been measured in recent days, according to experts at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
In fact, the organisation’s “space weather conditions” update show no kind of notable activity at all. It tracks possible radio blackouts, solar radiation storms and geomagnetic storms – and has not observed any kind of behaviour notable enough to make an impact.
Worries about possible solar weather are at a relatively high because the Sun is in a particularly active part of its cycle. The coming years are likely to see significant space weather which could hit our electronic equipment and communications technology.
Some scientists have warned that we are insufficiently prepared for such an event, and that the world should be taking more steps to avoid any possible danger.
That worry has led to a closer than usual focus on the Sun, especially around such things as sunspots. That meant that the newly formed one – numbered AR3038 – led to special concern when it was spotted growing and facing the Earth.
That in turn led to a number of concerning reports about the possibility of a “direct hit” on Earth, a “major solar storm” and a number of warnings.
But sunspots can also die on the solar surface without unleashing any kind of radiation that might trouble Earth. And for now there is no indication that the new spot is posing any kind of danger to our planet.