09Jul2017

Sunspot Surprise – Monster Sunspot Facing Earth

Sunspot

Big sunspot AR2665 continues to expand and grow. It is now more than 75,000 km long with multiple dark cores larger than our entire planet. This marks the end of a fairly dry and prolonged sunspot period.

At sunrise on July 8th, Peter Lowenstein of Mutare, Zimbabwe, saw AR2665 through morning clouds and mist at the Cecil Kop Nature Reserve.

Sunspot AR2665 is growing rapidly. Credit: SDO/HMI

“In this surreal photograph, taken at just the right moment when clouds were not too thick to obscure it, complex sunspot AR2665 and its chain of smaller cores is clearly visible on the solar disc,” says Lowenstein.

“I used a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 camera in sunset scene mode to capture the picture.”AR2665 is by far the largest sunspot of 2017 and it temporarily interrupts the sun’s headlong plunge into a spotless Solar Minimum.

So far AR2665 has not produced any strong flares, but this could change if the sunspot’s rapid growth destabilizes its magnetic field and causes it to explode. Stay tuned for updates as the sunspot turns toward Earth. Source: Space Weather.com

 

UPDATE — SOLAR ACTIVITY INTENSIFIES

Sunspot AR2665, which emerged just as few days ago, has mushroomed into a behemoth nearly as wide as the planet Jupiter.

The biggest Sunspot for 2017 until now. It is grow rapidly LX200 8 ACF GPS / Barlow 2X -FL=4000mm / ASI 120MM / AstroSolar ND 3.8

On July 9th the fast-growing sunspot produced an M2-class solar flare and a short-lived shortwave radio blackout over east Asia and Australia. Stronger flares and Earth-directed CMEs may be in the offing as AR2665 turns toward our planet in the days ahead.

Remarkably, the explosion persisted for more than two hours, producing a sustained fusillade of X-rays and energetic protons that ionized the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere.

 Shortwave radio blackouts were subsequently observed over the Pacific Ocean and especially around the Arctic Circle. This map from NOAA shows the affected geographic regions. Of even greater interest is the coronal mass ejection (CME). The explosion hurled a bright CME away from the blast site, and it appears to be heading for Earth:

FACTS ABOUT THE SOLAR CYCLE

Conventional wisdom holds that solar activity swings back and forth like a simple pendulum. At one end of the cycle, there is a quiet time with few sunspots and flares. At the other end, solar max brings high sunspot numbers and frequent solar storms.

It’s a regular rhythm that repeats every 11 years. The reality of the solar cycle is more complicated. Astronomers have been counting sunspots for centuries, and they have seen that the solar cycle is not perfectly regular. Taken by Peter Desypris on July 9, 2017 @ Syros island, Greece

 

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