Sunspots- What are they?
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In a world of Modern Technology and a deep dependance of our energy sources, Understanding the Solar Cycle has become an even greater Quest to mankind, for those of you unaware- we now have a Probe (Parker solar) heading towards the Sun’s Atmosphere (Corona).
The probe was aptly named after Eugene Parker for his pioneering research into the Sun, each perihelion will sneak closer to the surface of the sun, with the spacecraft in the end dancing less than 4 million miles (6 million kilometers) above our star, the closest any probe has come to the Sun.
To highlight just how important this mission is -we only have to look at the cost, a staggering 1.5 billion Dollars.
So you can see this mission is a very important milestone in human endeavour to understand the “big yellow ball” in the sky.
I have been asked to explain what a Sunspot is! and for those of you who are not aware i truly understand that the average person is not into solar physics may not associate this with our modern world after all we look up every day and with luck it is simply “just there” as it always is.
Sunspots are easily recognized as speckles on the surface of the sun. Scientists have known since the early 20th century that sunspots are actually bundles of intense magnetic field lines—the lines along which the forces of a magnet move. They can be as big as planets, too.
As you can see Sunspots are pretty awesome.
What makes up a sunspot?
The darkest center of a sunspot is called the umbra, and the rest is known as the penumbra. A penumbra has a fringe pattern and plasma outflow.
It is believed that our Ancestors named the common flower ” Sunflower” after seeing a sunspot. A sunspot, or dark spot on the Sun, appears dark because the temperature is lower than its surroundings by about 2000ºC. In theory, because a sunspot contains a very intense magnetic field, it is disturbing plasma motion, attracting large magnetic fluxes, Now here is where the story gets a little scary!.
During the solar cycle these magnetic fluxes can become entangled and burst apart (simple terminology), This is called a Coronal Mass Ejection. Coronal because it originates in the Corna- Mass because size of payload (Plasma) and Ejection- it leaves the sun. shortened to CME.
A CME can eject billions of tons of coronal material ( Plasma) and carry an embedded magnetic field line that travels through the heliosphere, CMEs travel outward from the Sun at speeds ranging from slower than 250 kilometers per second (km/s) to as fast as near 3000 km/s. The fastest Earth-directed CMEs can reach our planet in as little as 15-18 hours.
Slower CMEs can take several days to arrive. They expand in size as they propagate away from the Sun and larger CMEs can reach a size comprising nearly a quarter of the space between Earth and the Sun by the time it reaches our planet.
So you can see we are dealing with an immense persuasive power that is Physically impossible to stop.
For the record CME’s are categorized “in strength, from A-X- X being the “Daddy”.
For the record the X-class flares in September 2017 were the strongest in many years and satellite navigational systems for 3 days and caused radio and Electrical grid blackouts across the Northern Hemisphere, Bad? It could have been much worse as the area associated with the CME was already past the ” strike zone” and exiting the western limb.
Write up and visual here.
Video here of similar event.
March 29th 2014
So as we look forward to data received from the parker solar probe one has to think of the consequences to modern society if indeed we see X-class flares breaking through our already weakening Magnetic shield, i leave you with a video from Destiny,
“This happened to Earth in January 2019”. Understand the Implications of a combination of Super Grand Solar Minima a weak magnetic field, CME strikes and a potential for mass Animal migration confusion.
All this from a sunspot!!
Thanks for stopping by.