Earth Watch Report – Solar Activity
Sunspot AR2002 poses a growing threat for solar flares. Since the week began, the active region has more than tripled in size. It now has more than a dozen dark cores and sprawls across 100,000 km of solar terrain. Karzaman Ahmad sends this picture from the Langkawi National Observatory in Malaysia:
“AR2002 is so large,” says Ahmad, “that I was able to photograph it using an ordinary 11-inch Celestron telescope capped with a Thousand Oaks Glass Filter.” The exceptionally crisp image shows thousands of boiling granules surrounding the sunspot’s dark cores. Each granule is about the size of Texas.
A 48-hour movie from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot’s development:
The rapid growth of AR2002 has destabilized its magnetic field, which makes it more likely to erupt. NOAA forecasters estimate a 70% chance of M-class flares and a 15% chance of X-class flares during the next 24 hours.