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Largest Sunspot in Years Now on the Sun

One of the largest sunspots in years is now visible, rotating around into view on the Sun’s limb on November 3, 2011. And it’s a feisty one, too. The Solar Dynamics Observatory team called Active Region 1339 a “Bad Boy,” as at 20:27 UTC, a solar flare peaked at X1.9. X-class flares are massive, and can be major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. This region is not facing Earth — yet. But we’ll be keeping on eye on it as it turns toward an Earth-facing direction.

See a full-Sun image from SDO below.

The Sun as of 20:00 UT on Nov. 3, 2011. AR 1339 is on the top left of the Sun. Credit SDO/GSFC

This sunspot is huge, measuring some 40,000 km wide and at over 80,000 in length. Spaceweather.com said two or three of the sunspot’s dark cores are wider than Earth itself.


Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today's Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT's Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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  • serial_ tech November 6, 2011, 4:49 PM

    I can has aurora in NC plz? 😀