NASA Spots Enormous Hole On Sun Surface

Posted: Jul 15 2017, 6:42pm CDT | by , Updated: Jul 15 2017, 6:48pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 

NASA Spots Enormous Hole on Sun’s Surface
Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/SDO
 

The sunspot has a core larger than the Earth

A giant sunspot, larger than Earth, has been captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

The sunspot was detected across the face as the Sun rotated and it seems to be growing rapidly. 

Sunspots are dark patches on the Sun. They occur frequently and last anywhere from days to months. But researchers are baffled by the newly-discovered sunspot as the phenomenon is a rarity in solar minimum. 

Our sun goes through a regular 11-year cycle marked by two extremes: solar maximum and solar minimum. Solar maximum is associated with intense solar activity and greater number of sunspots. So sunspots are also used as an index for solar activity. However, the sun is now heading towards solar minimum, which is the period of low solar activity.

“This sunspot is the first to appear after the sun was spotless for two days, and it is the only sunspot group at this moment." NASA said.

Sunspots appear in photosphere – the surface that we see when we look at the Sun - and it exhibits complex magnetic field. The photosphere has a temperature of 5,800 degrees Kelvin while the temperature of sunspots is about 3,800 degrees K. 

Sunspots look darker compare to their brighter and hotter surroundings. They come in various sizes, ranging from 3500 km to 50,000 km in diameter (4 times the size of the Earth).

“Like freckles on the face of the sun, they appear to be small features, but size is relative: The dark core of this sunspot is actually larger than Earth.” NASA statement reads.

As sunspots occur over regions of intense magnetic activity, they are linked to solar flares and coronal mass ejections. When these solar flares travel down to Earth, they can disrupt satellite communications and – in worse case scenarios – damage power transformers.

The images of sunspot were captured by SDO between July 5 and 11. 

 

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