NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captures sunspot rotating towards Earth


'It is the first sunspot to appear after the sun was spotless for two days, and it is the only sunspot group on the sun at this moment. The word "sunspot" may suggest that the feature is diminutive, and the sun's massive size does dwarf the seemingly floating feature by comparison.

Sunspots are areas of the solar surface with intense magnetic fields, and they're dark because they are relatively cooler than their surroundings (by about 2,000 Kelvin).

Sunspots are pretty common, although just how common they are changes over a cycle that lasts about 11 years.

The SDO captured the imagery used in the video between July 5 and 11. It was an average-sized sunspot (typically, they vary between 10 and 100,000 miles in diameter), quickly moving across the star's surface.

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Sunspots are abundant when solar activity is high, and these spots will not become plentiful again until at least 2020, NASA officials said in a video caption.

In a worst-case scenario that could mean communications satellites could be knocked out and it could cause radiation storms.

Fortunately, NASA has an excellent view of the sun's surface through its Solar Dynamics Observatory, equipped with three different devices for measuring the sun's activity.

They can also create visible auroras (which are associated with the way the particles meet Earth's atmosphere).

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