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Massive Sunspot 1263 Forms-Wider than the Earth!

August 3, 2011


Double sunspot 1263 is a whopper. Its two dark cores are each wider than Earth, and the entire region stretches more than 65,000 km from end to end. Yesterday in the Netherlands, Emil Kraaikamp took advantage of a break in the clouds and “a few moments of steady air” to capture this magnificent photo:

“To image this monster, I used a 10-inch Newtonian telescope capped by a white light solar filter,” says Kraaikamp. He used the same setup to photograph nearby sunspot 1261. The clarity of both images is impressive. Note the granulation of the stellar surface surrounding the main dark cores. Those are Texas-sized bubbles of plasma rising and falling like water boiling on top of a hot stove.

The magnetic field of sunspot 1263 harbors energy for powerful X-class solar flares. Because the sunspot is turning to face Earth, any such eruptions in the days ahead would likely be geo-effective

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