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Anorak | Fetch The Generator: A Huge Spot On The Sun Is Acting Weird

Fetch The Generator: A Huge Spot On The Sun Is Acting Weird

by | 31st, October 2014

The bright light in the lower right region of the sun shows an X-class solar flare on Oct. 26, 2014, as captured by NASA’s SDO. This was the third X-class flare in 48 hour. Image by NASA/SDO

 

AS I write, it’s 23 degrees Centigrade in London. On Halloween.

PBS has news:

By the time the giant spot on the sun rotated into view on October 18, it was already 80,000 miles wide, big enough to fit all of Jupiter, big enough to lay 10 Earths, side by side, across. It is the largest spot the sun has harbored in 24 years.

But while most erupting sunspots lob chunks of plasma outward in events called coronal mass ejections, this one’s keeping its plasma close to the surface.

To rewind, a sunspot is a darker, cooler area on the sun’s visible surface that stores intense magnetic energy. (Note: Cooler, in this case, means roughly 7,500 degrees Fahrenheit, down from about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.)

The sun is not a solid body. It’s a ball of hot, hot ionized gas called plasma that’s threaded with magnetic field, created by charged particles moving around. The sun spins faster at its equator, and the result is that some of that magnetic field drags, getting twisted and knotted up in the process. As this happens, these knots of magnetic field gain energy, pressure and buoyancy,

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Posted: 31st, October 2014 | In: Strange But True, Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink