23 January 2017 | AR 12321 Large Sunspot Group

Sunspots

Image credit & copyright: Peter Desypris | Click image to enlarge

Image Data

  • Location: Athens, Greece
  • Camera: DMK31AU03.AS
  • Optics: LUNT LS100THa PT

This intriguing image made by Peter Desypris from Greece shows a large group of sunspots that was classified as AR 12321. This active area had a beta-gamma-delta magnetic field that harbored the energy that contributed to X-class flares.

A sunspot is a kind of whirlpool, where hot gas near the Suns surface converges and dives into the interior at speeds of up to 4000 kilometres per hour.

Solar physicists have long known that intense magnetic fields in sunspots strangle the normal up-flow of energy from the interior, leaving the sunspot cooler and therefore darker than its surroundings. The converging flows of gas around a spot explain why the magnetic fields become concentrated, and how a sunspot can persist for days or weeks.

Sunspots have fascinated scientists since Galileos time, 400 years ago, when they shattered a belief that the Sun was divinely free of any blemish. As symptoms of intense magnetic activity, sunspots are often associated with solar flares and mass ejections that affect space weather and the Earth itself. The Suns activity peaks roughly every 11 years.

Source: ESA

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