Sunspot AR 3664 Has Grown as Large as the One That Caused the Carrington Event 165 Years Ago

  • It has erupted with intense M- and X-class flares in just a matter of days, including one with a magnitude of X8.7 on Tuesday.

  • Richard Carrington’s drawing of the massive 1859 sunspot allows us to compare the two solar events.

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The sunspot officially known as Active Region 3664 has been expanding over the past few months. In recent days, it has grown to be around 124,000 miles wide, which is 17 times the diameter of the Earth.

This complex structure, which is officially a cluster, has been merging with sunspots in neighboring region 3668 to form a dark figure that can be easily observed from Earth using a solar filter.

As is always the case with sunspots, AR 3664 has appeared due to the Sun’s magnetic field as the star enters the solar maximum. Interestingly, this sunspot is quite large and has produced many M- and X-class flares, including one of X8.7 magnitude on Tuesday.

Experts detected the sunspot's most powerful solar flare emitted to date on May 10 at 9.39 p.m. ET. The X5.8-class flare caused a severe solar storm on our planet. It also affected farmers during peak planting season and even resulted in auroras at latitudes as low as Puerto Rico.

AR 3664 Is as Big as the Sunspot That Led to the Carrington Event

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Astronomers are already comparing AR 3664 to the sunspot that caused the Carrington Event in 1859, which was of a similar size. This event also led to auroras appearing near unusually low latitudes, such as the Caribbean, and caused telegraph lines to melt.

Although there were no solar observatories like the ones we have today 165 years ago, astronomer Richard Carrington’s drawing of the prominent sunspot allows us to compare the two solar events.

The Carrington Event, characterized by powerful flares and coronal mass ejections, is often cited as an extreme illustration of the potential consequences of heightened solar activity.

Some astrophysicists have even raised concerns about a modern-day Carrington Event causing an Internet apocalypse, which could cut off the Internet for several weeks. However, not all astronomers agree, and the reality is that nothing happened following the recent geomagnetic storms.

Nonetheless, it remains crucial to monitor AR 3664’s activity until it dissipates from the Sun’s surface, as it may intersect with Earth’s trajectory.

Image | Correct_Presence_936| Reddit

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