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.
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 the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.