Rotating sunspots spin up a super solar flare

Apr 21, 2011
The Sun at 1.50am on 15th February 2011 using composite data of the Sun's surface from SDO/HMI and the Sun's million degree corona from SDO/AIA. The cutout region shows (bottom) the five rotating sunspots of the active region (AR 11158), and (top) the bright release of light from the X class flare. Credit: Image produced by D. Brown (UCLan). Data courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

(PhysOrg.com) -- The largest solar flare recorded in nearly five years was triggered by interactions between five rotating sunspots. Researchers at the University of Central Lancashire studied observations of the flaring region of the Sun taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory over a period of five days. Dr. Daniel Brown presented the findings at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales, on Wednesday 20th April 2011.

"Sunspots are features where generated in the Sun’s interior pushes through the surface and into the atmosphere," said Dr. Brown. "Twisting the Sun's magnetic field is like twisting an elastic band. At first you store energy in the elastic, but if you twist too much the elastic band snaps, releasing the stored energy. Similarly, rotating sunspots store energy in the Sun's atmospheric magnetic field. If they twist too much, the magnetic field breaks releasing energy in a flash of light and heat which makes up the ."
 
The flare occurred at 1.44am on 15th February 2011, when the released the largest recorded solar flare since December 2006 and the first flare of the current solar cycle to be classified as the most powerful “X-class”. Looking at five days of SDO observations that included this flare, Dr. Brown found that the active region that flared contained five newly emerged sunspots. All five of the sunspots rotated between 50 and 130 degrees, some in a clockwise and some in an anticlockwise direction, over the five days of observations.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
This movie shows the dynamics of the Sun's atmosphere over 6 days as seen by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). It uses composite data from two instruments, the surface data is from SDO/HMI, and the atmospheric data (at around 1,000,000 degrees) is from SDO/AIA. The right-hand inset shows a close up of active region 11158 from both of these instruments. The sunspots are seen to emerge and undergo a twisting motion in the solar surface. The response fo the coronal loops in the atmosphere shows rapid brightenings throughout the movie which are the solar flares being released. Movie credit: Movie produce by D. Brown (UCLan). Data courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.

“Rotating sunspots are an extremely efficient way to inject energy into the magnetic field of the Sun's atmosphere,” said Dr. Brown.  “With five rotating at the same time enough energy has been injected into the atmospheric magnetic field to produce the largest solar flare seen for almost 5 years.”

In addition to the large X-class flare, the same region also released over 40 smaller flares during the five days studied.

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User comments : 5

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omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2011
Thanks for this report and for evidence of increased interest in the Sun - Earth's heat source.

For anyone seriously interested in sunspots and the many ways that our stormy Sun impacts Earth, I recommend the following:

1. The book: "The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began" by Stuart Clark

http://press.prin...370.html

2. These research papers: "The Sun's origin, composition and source of energy", 32nd Lunar Science Conf. (2001):

http://xxx.lanl.g.../0411255

3. "Superfluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate",
Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002):

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

4. "Earth's Heat Source - The Sun", Energy & Environment 20, 131-144 (2009);

http://arxiv.org/pdf/0905.0704

5. "Neutron Repulsion", The APEIRON Journal, in press, 19 pages (2011);

http://arxiv.org/...2.1499v1

omatumr
1 / 5 (4) Apr 22, 2011
This short video shows our conclusions about the Sun:

www.youtube.com/w...e_Qk-q7M

With kind regards,
Oliver K. Manuel
that_guy
5 / 5 (1) Apr 22, 2011
The sunspots are only going to get worse due to neutron repulsion as shown in nuclear experiments. solar flares are going to whip out from the sun and rape everyone up in here. Hide your kids, hide your wife. Solar flares gonna get you.

Without any kind of regards,

This_guy.
Shelgeyr
1 / 5 (2) Apr 24, 2011
"Sunspots are features where magnetic field generated in the Suns interior pushes through the surface and into the atmosphere," said Dr. Brown. "Twisting the Sun's magnetic field is like twisting an elastic band. At first you store energy in the elastic, but if you twist too much the elastic band snaps, releasing the stored energy.
Nonsense!

...the magnetic field breaks...
Utter, utter nonsense! Magnetic fields don't "break".

Rotating sunspots are an extremely efficient way to inject energy into the magnetic field of the Sun's atmosphere.

Both the sunspots and the increased strength of the magnetic field are due to an increase in the electric current creating those things. Remember, an electric current is the only thing which can create a magnetic field.
omatumr
1 / 5 (3) Apr 24, 2011
"Sunspots are features where magnetic field generated in the Sun's interior pushes through the surface and into the atmosphere"


1. I agree. The question is whether the magnetic fields were produced by a.) Bose-Einstein condensation of iron-rich material into a superconductor in the mantle surrounding the solar core, or b.) The neutron star at the Sun's core ["Superfluidity in the solar interior:
Implications for solar eruptions and climate," Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198 (2002)].

http://arxiv.org/.../0501441

2. To understand the importance of solar flares on Earth, read Stuart Clark's book, "The Sun Kings: The Unexpected Tragedy of Richard Carrington and the Tale of How Modern Astronomy Began"

http://press.prin...370.html

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