NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDS) has sighted a sunspot turning towards the Earth. The sunspot is growing in size, and the region of intense and complex magnetic fields is larger than the Earth. The sunspot is the only spot on the Sun at the moment, and appeared after two days during which the sun was spotless. Sunspots are commonly visible on the surface of the sun, but are rarer during the solar minimum, a period of low solar activity which occurs roughly once every eleven years.

The timelapse video shows the sunspot rotating into the view over a period of forty two hours. The sunspot has been designated as Active Region 12665. The sunspot could potentially be the source of some solar flares, but it is too early in its formation to accurately predict what the sunspot will do. In April this year, the SDO captured a series of M class flares in rapid succession. Solar flares are classified into A, B, C, M and X categories, depending on the energy output of the flares.

The SDO was launched in 2010, and is an astronomical instrument dedicated to monitoring the activity on the Sun. The SDO provides scientists with the critical data needed to track solar weather, which can affect the communications infrastructure in space. The data from the SDO is available nearly in realtime to the public as and when it is collected by the spacecraft.

Publish date: July 17, 2017 9:10 am| Modified date: July 17, 2017 9:10 am

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