Astrophoto: Giant Sunspot Group on the Sun

by Nancy Atkinson on February 21, 2013

Sunspot 1678 in Hydrogen alpha light, taken on February 19, 2013. Credit and copyright: Paul Andrew.

Sunspot 1678 in Hydrogen alpha light, taken on February 19, 2013. Credit and copyright: Paul Andrew.

On February 19 and 20, 2013, scientists watched a giant sunspot form in under 48 hours. It has grown to over six Earth diameters. This image by astrophotographer Paul Andrew shows a detailed, close-up view of this sunspot group, named AR 1678, imaged with a hydrogen alpha filter.

NASA said the spot quickly evolved into what’s called a delta region, which has a magnetic field that harbors energy for strong solar flares. NOAA forecasters estimate a 45% chance of M-flares and a 15% chance of X-flares during the next day.

Below is an image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory of this region on the Sun:

This image of AR 1678 combines images from two instruments on NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which takes pictures in visible light that show sunspots and the Advanced Imaging Assembly (AIA), which took an image in the 304 Angstrom wavelength showing the lower atmosphere of the sun, which is colorized in red. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center

This image of AR 1678 combines images from two instruments on NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO): the Helioseismic and Magnetic Imager (HMI), which takes pictures in visible light that show sunspots and the Advanced Imaging Assembly (AIA), which took an image in the 304 Angstrom wavelength showing the lower atmosphere of the sun, which is colorized in red. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center

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About 

Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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