- Sep 1, 2010
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AR1654 is a Monster Sunspot (aiming our way)
That's a helluva sunspotLike an enormous cannon that is slowly turning its barrel toward us, the latest giant sunspot region AR1654 is steadily moving into position to face Earth, loaded with plenty of magnetic energy to create M-class flares - moderate-sized outbursts of solar energy that have the potential to cause brief radio blackouts on Earth and, at the very least, spark bright aurorae around the upper latitudes.
The image above, captured by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory earlier today, shows the structure of AR1654 upon the Sun's photosphere - its light-emitting “surface” layer. Stretching many tens of thousands of miles, this magnetic solar blemish easily dwarfs our entire planet.
Here's video of that magnetic monster:A sunspot is a magnetically active region on the sun that appears dark because it’s relatively cooler than the surrounding area 6,000ºF (3,300ºC) versus 10,000ºF (5,500º C). Sunspots are where solar flares are most likely to occur since the magnetic fields in these active regions can build up enough energy to break, releasing bursts of intense radiation into the solar system.
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/sunearth/news/News011413-cme.htmlThis triptych shows a coronal mass ejection or CME as it burst off of the sun in the morning of Jan. 13, 2013. The images were captured by NASA's Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory (STEREO). Credit: NASA/STEREO
On Jan. 13, 2013, at 2:24 a.m. EST, the sun erupted with an Earth-directed coronal mass ejection or CME. Not to be confused with a solar flare, a CME is a solar phenomenon that can send solar particles into space and reach Earth one to three days later.