Scientists Discover Way to Predict Sunspots

Researchers say they can provide 48 hours warning

By Tim Karan,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 19, 2011 5:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Maybe we'll eventually be able to cross off solar flares as a possible way the world ends. Scientists at Stanford say they've developed a system to predict dangerous sunspots two days before they erupt, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Using satellite data, they can detect the rumblings of solar storms deep beneath the surface.

"It's long been our hope to see the storms of sunspots before they show up," says one NASA solar physicist. Solar flares and "mass coronal ejections" that accompany sunspots shoot ionized gasses toward the Earth at the speed of light, and can knock out power grids, keep planes grounded, and threaten astronauts. The hope is that scientists can now provide ample warning time to prepare for such events, though the new method still needs to be refined.

Scientists say they've discovered a method to predict sunspots.
Scientists say they've discovered a method to predict sunspots.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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