Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Now Playing At The Star Nearest You: The Largest Sunspot In Ten Years Blazes Away With Eruptions

Date:
March 30, 2001
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
A huge sunspot, thirteen-times larger than the surface area of the Earth and growing, has now rotated with the Sun to face our planet. The sunspot, which is the largest of the current solar cycle, is also the largest to appear in a decade.

A huge sunspot, thirteen-times larger than the surface area of the Earth and growing, has now rotated with the Sun to face our planet. The sunspot, which is the largest of the current solar cycle, is also the largest to appear in a decade.

The area of the Sun, designated AR 9393, has been a prolific generator of stormy solar activity, hurling clouds of electrified gas towards Earth, producing four explosions, called flares, and spawning storms of high-speed particles in space.

The largest of the four flares occurred at 4:57 a.m. EST on Thursday, March 29, and was rated as an X-class flare, the most potent designation. The other three flares were rated M-class, second only to the X-class. An eruption near AR 9393 hurled a cloud of electrified, magnetic gas towards Earth on Wednesday. This eruption, called a Coronal Mass Ejection may cause auroral displays and magnetic storm activity when it impacts the Earth's magnetic field sometime Friday. Another Earthbound CME associated with the X-class flare was seen at 5:26 a.m. EST March 29 and is expected to arrive on Saturday.

"Sunspots with complex magnetic field structures like those in AR 9393 can generate big flares, and sure enough, we just had a powerful X-class flare from this area," said Dr. Joseph Gurman, at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, project scientist for the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft. SOHO is one of a fleet of sun-observing spacecraft now tracking this region and its activity.

Sunspots are darker areas on the visible surface of the Sun caused by a concentration of distorted magnetic fields. The strong magnetic field slows the flow of heat from the Sun's interior and keeps sunspots slightly cooler than their surroundings, causing them to appear dark. The number of sunspots increases and decreases as the Sun's 11-year cycle of stormy activity rises and falls. Violent solar activity is believed to be caused by the release of magnetic energy, and powerful solar eruptions and flares often occur near the enhanced magnetic field of sunspots.

Solar flares, among the solar system's mightiest eruptions, are tremendous explosions in the Sun's atmosphere, capable of releasing as much energy as a billion megatons of TNT. Caused by the sudden release of magnetic energy, in just a few seconds flares can accelerate solar particles to very high velocities and heat solar material to tens of millions of degrees.

Coronal mass ejections are clouds of electrified magnetic gas weighing billions of tons, hurled into space at speeds of 12 to 1,250 miles per second. Depending on the orientation of the magnetic fields carried by the ejection cloud, solar explosions cause magnetic storms by interacting with Earth's magnetic field, distorting its shape and accelerating electrically charged particles trapped within.

Severe solar weather is often heralded by dramatic auroral displays, but magnetic storms are occasionally harmful, potentially affecting satellites, radio communications and power systems.

Coronal Mass Ejections and flares can produce storms of high-velocity particles. The ejections are believed to produce longer particle storms than flares, storms that sometimes last for days, as they plow through the slower solar wind at supersonic speeds, creating a shock wave that accelerates electrically charged particles.

The SOHO project is an international cooperative program between NASA and the European Space Agency in the framework of the international Solar Terrestrial Science Program.

Movies and images of this solar activity will be broadcast today on NASA Television, which is broadcast on satellite GE-2, transponder 9C, C-band, located at 85 degrees West longitude. The frequency is 3880 MHz, with vertical polarization and monaural audio at 6.8 MHz.

For more information on the sunspot, refer to:

http://www.spaceweather.com/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Now Playing At The Star Nearest You: The Largest Sunspot In Ten Years Blazes Away With Eruptions." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010330224946.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (2001, March 30). Now Playing At The Star Nearest You: The Largest Sunspot In Ten Years Blazes Away With Eruptions. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010330224946.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "Now Playing At The Star Nearest You: The Largest Sunspot In Ten Years Blazes Away With Eruptions." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/03/010330224946.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Space & Time News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

This Week @ NASA, July 25, 2014

NASA (July 25, 2014) Apollo 11 celebration, Next Giant Leap anticipation, ISS astronauts appear in the House and more... Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space to Ground: Coming and Going

Space to Ground: Coming and Going

NASA (July 25, 2014) One station cargo ship leaves, another arrives, aquatic research and commercial spinoffs. Questions or comments? Use #spacetoground to talk to us. Video provided by NASA
Powered by NewsLook.com
How A Solar Flare Could Have Wrecked Earth's Electronics

How A Solar Flare Could Have Wrecked Earth's Electronics

Newsy (July 25, 2014) Researchers say if Earth had been a week earlier in its orbit around the sun, it would have taken a direct hit from a 2012 coronal mass ejection. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

Raw: ISS Cargo Ship Launches in Kazakhstan

AP (July 23, 2014) The Progress 56 cargo ship launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Wednesday. NASA says it will deliver cargo and crew supplies to the International Space Station. (July 23) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins