“Here comes the sun” never sounded so ominous.
Scientists issued a dire warning Sunday after a huge sunspot named AR3038 doubled in size and is now pointed at earth — meaning a large solar flare could potentially strike the planet, Newsweek first reported.
Otherworldly footage released from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory revealed how the huge sunspot has been evolving at a rapid rate, according to Science Times.
“Yesterday, sunspot AR3038 was big,” scientists told SpaceWeather.com. “Today, it’s enormous. The fast-growing sunspot has doubled in size in only 24 hours.”
They added, “AR3038 has an unstable ‘beta-gamma’ magnetic field that harbors energy for M-class solar flares, and it is directly facing Earth.”
Accompanying footage from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory show the sunspot has evolved within the past day, twisting and contorting like the Eye of Sauron from “Lord of the Rings,” the Tech Explorist reported.
Sunspots are dark areas on the sun’s surface that can produce huge radiation waves. They form over regions with powerful magnetic fields, which can sometimes spark a solar flare.
And while the Earth-oriented sun spot has yet to produce such a firestorm, it could still potentially fire off an M-class solar flare — the second strongest type.
Fortunately, despite the “Armageddon”-esque phenomenon, this relatively common flare wouldn’t cause any physical harm, and would instead likely result in a 10-minute radio blackout at worst.
“The explosive heat of a solar flare can’t make it all the way to our globe, but electromagnetic radiation and energetic particles certainly can,” reported NASA. “Solar flares can temporarily alter the upper atmosphere creating disruptions with signal transmission from, say, a GPS satellite to Earth causing it to be off by many yards.”
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center is currently keeping tabs on the sunspot for a potential solar flare event, but has yet to issue any warnings.
Far more harmful is the most powerful X-class flares, which can “create long lasting radiation storms that can harm satellites, communications systems, and even ground-based technologies and power grids,” per NASA.
Last month, NASA captured an X-class solar flare that erupted from the sun and sent energy across the galaxy, which made for spectacular imagery of the invisible light.