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Giant Sunspot Makes Third Trip Across the Sun

A giant sunspot - a magnetically strong and complex region on the sun's surface - has just appeared over the sun's horizon. This is the third trip for this region across the face of the sun, which takes approximately 27 days to make a complete rotation.

Scientists track sunspots that are part of active regions, which often produce large explosions on the sun such as solar flares and coronal mass ejections, or CMEs. Each time an active region appears it is assigned a number. Active regions that have survived their trip around the back of the sun and reappear are assigned a new number - a convention left over from when we had no telescopes observing the far side of the sun and so could not be sure that the new sunspot was indeed the same as the old one. This active region is currently labeled AR11990. Last time around it was labeled AR11967and its first time it was AR11944.

During its three trips thus far, this region has produced two significant solar flares, labeled as the strongest kind of flare, an X-class. It has also produced numerous mid-level and smaller flares. While many sunspots do not last more than a couple of weeks, there have been sunspots known to be stable for many months at a time.

Studying what causes active regions to appear and disappear over time, as well as how long they remain stable, is key to understanding the origins of space weather that can impact Earth's technological infrastructure.

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Another multimedia item related to this story:
     NASA's SDO Provides Images of Significant Solar Flare (id 11493)
More information on this topic available at:
http://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/giant-sunspot-makes-third-trip-across-the-sun/

A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center    A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light.

Image Credit:

NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center

Available formats:
  1920 x 1080     TIFF       7 MB
  1920 x 1080     JPEG       1 MB
  320 x 180         JPEG     31 KB


A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light.  Square crop. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center    A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. Square crop.

Image Credit:

NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center

Available formats:
  1024 x 1024     TIFF       4 MB
  1024 x 1024     JPEG   625 KB


A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. Blend of 304 and HMI Continuum.  Original 4k full disk. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center    A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. Blend of 304 and HMI Continuum. Original 4k full disk.

Image Credit:

NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center

Available formats:
  4096 x 4096     TIFF     37 MB
  4096 x 4096     JPEG       5 MB


A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light.  Different blend of 304 and HMI Continuum.  Original 4k full disk. Image Credit: NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center    A giant sunspot appeared on Feb. 25, 2014, for its third trip across the face of the sun. This blend of two images from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory shows the sunspot in visible light and an X-class flare observable in ultraviolet light. Different blend of 304 and HMI Continuum. Original 4k full disk.

Image Credit:

NASA/SDO/Goddard Space Flight Center

Available formats:
  4096 x 4096     TIFF     37 MB
  4096 x 4096     JPEG       4 MB

Short URL to This Page:http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/goto?11497
Animation Number:11497
Completed:2014-02-28
Producer:Scott Wiessinger (USRA)
Project Support:Aaron E Lepsch (ADNET Systems, Inc.)
Writer:Karen Fox (ASI)
Series:Heliophysics Breaking News
Goddard TV Tape:G2014-015 -- 2014 Heliophysics Breaking News
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. However, individual images should be credited as indicated above.
 
Keywords:
SVS >> Solar Flare
SVS >> Solar Ultraviolet
SVS >> Sun
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Sun-earth Interactions
SVS >> SDO
SVS >> Solar Dynamics Observatory
SVS >> Heliophysics
SVS >> Corona
 
 


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Many of our multimedia items use the GCMD keywords. These keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation:
Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

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