Earth-Facing Sunspot Doubles in Size

by Jason Major on February 11, 2012

Animation of AR1416's evolution over the past several days -- click to play. (SDO/HMI)

The latest sunspot region to traverse the face of the Sun has nearly doubled in size as it aims Earthward, as seen in the animation above from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. (Click image to play the animation.)

This is the second day in a row that the region has been seen expanding.

According to SpaceWeather.com, active region 1416 has the right sort of magnetic energy to potentially send M-class flares our way.

M-class flares are medium-sized solar flares. They can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth’s polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare event.

Sunspot region 1416 on Feb. 11, 2012. The large sunspot on the right is easily the size of Earth. (SDO/HMI Intensitygram)

If AR1416 produces a flare over the next 24 hours we would likely see increased auroral activity in upper latitudes early next week.

Stay tuned to Universe Today and SpaceWeather.com for any news on solar flares, and be sure to visit the SDO site for the latest images and videos of our home star.

Images courtesy NASA/SDO and the AIA and HMI science teams.

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Also, check out Alan Boyle’s article on MSNBC’s Cosmic Log about this and a recent heart-shaped coronal mass ejection that occurred on Friday, sending a cloud of charged particles on a Valentine’s Day date with our magnetosphere.  It should be a Sun-kissed night in northern parts of the world!

 

About 

A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

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