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ACTIVITY INTENSIFIES: Huge sunspot
AR1476 is crackling with M-class solar flares and
appears to be on the verge of producing something
even stronger. The sunspot's 'beta-gamma-delta'
magnetic field harbors energy for X-class
flares, the most powerful kind. Earth is entering
the line of fire as the sunspot rotates across the
face of the sun.
This morning, May 10th around 0418
UT, sunspot 1476 unleashed an impulsive M5-class
solar flare. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded
the extreme ultraviolet flash:
Apparently, the almost-X class explosion
did not hurl a significant CME toward Earth. NOAA
forecasters estimate a 65% chance of more M-class
flares and a 10% chance of X-flares during the next
24 hours. X-flare
DOES A SUNSPOT SOUND LIKE? On May
9th, amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft of New Mexico
detected strong shortwave radio bursts coming from
the sunspot. Click to hear the "solar static"
that roared out of his loudspeaker:
Dynamic spectrum courtesy of Wes
Greenman, Alachua Radio Observatory
"The strongest burst so far occured
around 1631 UT on May 9th," reports Ashcraft.
"I am observing at 28 MHz and 21.1 MHz. As
I send this note I am hearing more bursting, indicating
powerful magnetic dynamism within active region
Solar radio bursts are caused by plasma
instabilities that ripple through the sun's atmosphere
in the aftermath of powerful flares. With AR1476
poised for more eruptions, this 'radio activity'
is likely to continue for days. Stay
SUNRISE: Sunspot AR1476 is so large,
people are noticing it without the aide of a solar
telescope. The behemoth appears at sunrise and
sunset when the light of the low-hanging sun is
occasionally dimmed to human visibility. Stefano
De Rosa sends this picture from Turin, Italy:
Photo details: Canon Eos 5D Mark
II; Focal length:700mm; Exp: 1/8000 sec; F/40; ISO:50
"This morning the sight of the
majestic sunspot AR 1476 was great as the sun was
rising alongside the Basilica of Superga!"
says De Rosa.
The sunspot looks
a lot like Hawaii, but it is much bigger than
any island on Earth. From end to end the sprawling
active region stretches ~160,000 km, or a dozen
times wider than our entire planet. If you have
telescope, take a look. The view is magnificent.
more images: from
William Parker of Port Angeles, WA; from
Alberto Lao of Binondo, Manila, Philippines;
Tom Murdic of Franklin, Tennessee; from
Jett Aguilar of Quezon City, Philippines;
Caution: Even when
the sun is dimmed by clouds and haze, looking into
the glare can damage your eyes. Looking through
unfiltered optics is even worse. If you chose to
photograph the low sun with a digital camera, please
use the camera's LCD screen for pointing. Do not
peer through the optical viewfinder.