Massive sunspots appear, solar flares could follow

(Source: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center via CSM)

(Source: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center via CSM)

(Source: Christian Science Monitor)

A colossal sunspot on the surface of the sun is large enough to swallow six Earths whole, and could trigger solar flares this week, NASA scientists say.

The giant sunspot was captured on camera by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory as it swelled to enormous proportions over the 48 hours spanning Tuesday and Wednesday (Feb. 19 and 20).[…]

“It has grown to over six Earth diameters across, but its full extent is hard to judge since the spot lies on a sphere, not a flat disk,” wrote NASA spokeswomanKaren Fox, of the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., in an image description.

[S]ome of the intense magnetic fields in the sunspot region are pointing in opposite directions, making it ripe for solar activity.

“This is a fairly unstable configuration that scientists know can lead to eruptions of radiation on the sun called solar flares,” Fox explained.

Propagation in the higher portions of the HF band could be very interesting over the course of the next few days.  If a solar flare erupts, however, it could make shortwave listening quite difficult.

Thanks for the tip, Bill!

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