Earth Watch Report  –  Solar Activity



Space Weather

by Dr. Tony Phillips.


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.



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