“No need to panic,” experts say

  • A sunspot, called AR3038, has doubled in size every day for the past three days, said a NASA scientist. When sunspots grow, there is a greater chance of solar flares.
  • Solar flames can interfere with radio communications and power grids on earth. But this sunspot is not particularly likely to cause intense flares, experts told USA TODAY.
  • The eruptions also have little effect on most people on earth, reassured experts, saying “there is no need to panic.”
A sunspot, called Active Region 3038 or AR3038, has the potential to cause sun flames.

A sunspot pointing towards the earth has the potential to cause sun flames, but experts told the United States TODAY that it is far from unusual and eased concerns about how torches would affect the blue planet.

Active Region 3038, or AR3038, has grown over the past week, said Rob Steenburgh, acting head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Forecast Office. The size and growth rate of the sunspot is quite normal, he said.

“This is what sunspots do,” he said. “Over time, they will generally grow. They go through stages, and then they decay.”

A SUN SPOT PLANET SIZE POINTS TO EARTH:What happens if there is a solar flare?

What are sunspots and sunburns?

Sunspots appear darker because they are cooler than other parts of the sun’s surface, according to NASA. Sunspots are cooler because they form where strong magnetic fields prevent heat in the sun from reaching the surface.