Giant sunspot makes third trip across the sun

Feb 28, 2014
Giant sunspot makes third trip across the sun
A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center

a magnetically strong and complex region on the sun's surface – has just appeared over the sun's horizon. This is the third trip for this region across the face of the sun, which takes approximately 27 days to make a complete rotation.

Scientists track sunspots that are part of active regions, which often produce large explosions on the sun such as and , or CMEs. Each time an appears it is assigned a number. Active regions that have survived their trip around the back of the sun and reappear are assigned a new number – a convention left over from when we had no telescopes observing the far side of the sun and so could not be sure that the new sunspot was indeed the same as the old one. This active region is currently labeled AR11990. Last time around it was labeled AR11967and its first time it was AR11944.

During its three trips thus far, this region has produced two significant solar flares, labeled as the strongest kind of flare, an X-class. It has also produced numerous mid-level and smaller flares. While many sunspots do not last more than a couple of weeks, there have been known to be stable for many months at a time.

Studying what causes active regions to appear and disappear over time, as well as how long they remain stable, is key to understanding the origins of space weather that can impact Earth's technological infrastructure.

Explore further: NASA's SDO sees giant January sunspots

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA's SDO sees giant January sunspots

Jan 07, 2014

An enormous sunspot, labeled AR1944, slipped into view over the sun's left horizon late on Jan. 1, 2014. The sunspot steadily moved toward the right, along with the rotation of the sun, and now sits almost ...

Solar minimum; solar maximum

Nov 27, 2012

(Phys.org)—The picture on the left shows a calm sun from Oct. 2010. The right side, from Oct. 2012, shows a much more active and varied solar atmosphere as the sun moves closer to peak solar activity, a ...

Space Image: Sunspots and solar flares

Mar 21, 2012

(PhysOrg.com) -- NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) captured this image of an M7.9 class flare on March 13, 2012 at 1:29 p.m. EDT. It is shown here in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, a wavelength particularly ...

Video: The Sun reverses its magnetic poles

Dec 09, 2013

This visualization shows the position of the sun's magnetic fields from January 1997 to December 2013. The field lines swarm with activity: The magenta lines show where the sun's overall field is negative ...

X-Class solar flare: Nov. 19

Nov 20, 2013

Adding on to a series of solar flares throughout October and November, the sun emitted another significant solar flare on Nov. 19, 2013, peaking at 5:26 a.m. EST. Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. ...

Recommended for you

The latest observations of interstellar particles

2 hours ago

With all the news about Voyager 1 leaving the heliosphere and entering interstellar space you might think that the probe is the first spacecraft to detect interstellar particles. That isn't entirely true, ...

Hepatitis C virus proteins in space

2 hours ago

Two researchers at Technische Universität München have won the 'International Space Station Research Competition' with their project 'Egypt Against Hepatitis C Virus.' As their prize, the scientists will ...

Very Long Baseline Array takes radio image of Voyager 1

3 hours ago

The image above is a radio image of Voyager 1. It was taken from the Very Long Baseline Array, which is a collection of 10 radio telescopes scattered from Hawaii to the Virgin Islands. It captures the faint ...

Lunar explorers will walk at higher speeds than thought

17 hours ago

Anyone who has seen the movies of Neil Armstrong's first bounding steps on the moon couldn't fail to be intrigued by his unusual walking style. But, contrary to popular belief, the astronaut's peculiar walk ...

User comments : 0