Sunspots aren’t static, and NASA has the amazing video footage to prove it. Captured in February, this clip taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows how sunspots surface, change, and grow over time as the forces of both convection and the Sun’s powerful magnetic field act upon them.
Researchers at Big Bear Solar Observatory have tuned their adaptive optics array and achieved first light, capturing this image of a sunspot that is now the most detailed ever captured in visible light. The image was captured with Big Bear's New Solar Telescope (NST), a brand new instrument (as the name implies) with a resolution of just 50 miles on the sun's surface.
By Carina StorrsPosted 10.05.2009 at 1:42 pm 19 Comments
Solar Force Field
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
The first computer-generated model of an entire sunspot—a magnetic anomaly on the surface of the sun—tracks the magnetic fields in the area, helping researchers figure out how the sun releases energy around the spots. At the dark center, or umbra, the field is so strong—about 1,000 times the solar average—that it blocks the solar gases that typically bubble to the surface.
Discoveries and disappearances in the world of science
By Lindsey KonkelPosted 06.07.2009 at 5:43 pm 2 Comments
This year, astronomers expect the fewest sunspots—magnetic storms on the sun's surface—in a century. Fewer spots indicates a cooler sun, which could cool the planet by a fraction of a degree.
For about 50 years from roughly 1650 to 1700, the Sun took a break from its typical sunspot activity. That phase of solar rest coincided with what we now refer to as "The Little Ice Age" -- a period of cooling on the Earth that resulted in bitterly cold winters, particularly in Europe and North America. Scientists attribute the Little Ice Age to two main causes: increased volcanic activity and reduced solar activity.
Could it happen again? And are we headed there now?