Scientists from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory have discovered what’s got to be one of the biggest solar spots ever recorded. According to the source article, big enough to be visible to the naked eye (if you are trying to burn your retinas out by staring directly into the sun). Why should it concern you? The sunspot is currently aiming directly at the Earth!! Yes, Folks, if that shit goes off, I’m afraid that things won’t look so good for us.
The Active Region 1339, as it’s been dubbed by NASA scientists, is so big that it overshadows
yo mama Jupiter in size and may take down several satellites and cause intense aurorae!
Hit the break to read more about this and order a jumbo bottle of sun block!
Dubbed Active Region 1339, the cluster of magnetic activity was first spotted by satellites as it started making its way around the sun’s northwestern edge. The monster spot came into view of Earth-bound telescopes last week.
Astronomers soon realized this is not your average sunspot—it’s a giant cluster of sunspots, several of which are larger than our entire planet.
In fact, viewed from Earth, AR 1339 is large enough to be visible to the naked eye.
“It’s not very often that you get naked-eye sunspots,” said Philip H. Scherrer, a research professor at Stanford University. Scherrer cautioned that people should never look directly at the sun—always use solar-grade filters on optical equipment, or view the sun with indirect methods, such as pinhole projection.
After releasing a few X-class solar flares—the most powerful types of flares—on November 3 that were aimed away from Earth, AR 1339 remained relatively quiet. But it’s now been pointed at Earth for several days and could unleash a new round of eruptions at any time.
So what are sunspots and why should we be afraid of them?
A sunspot is a magnetically active region on the sun that appears dark because it’s relatively cooler than the surrounding area—6,000ºF (3,300ºC) versus 10,000ºF (5,500º C).
Many of the sunspots that make up AR 1339 are easily as large as Earth, and the entire cluster is estimated to be approximately 17 times the width of our planet—even wider than Jupiter.
Sunspots are where solar flares are most likely to occur, since the magnetic fields in these active regions can build up enough energy to break, releasing bursts of intense radiation into the solar system.
If aimed toward Earth, this outpouring of energy can interact with our magnetosphere, infusing molecules in the atmosphere with extra energy that then gets released as light, producing aurorae.
While aurorae are beautiful to watch, the sun’s electromagnetic outpourings also carry some risk. The x-ray energy from solar flares can change conditions in Earth’s upper atmosphere, which can disrupt or even knock offline communications satellites.
In addition, the extra radiation can pose health concerns for commercial pilots and astronauts, such as the crew currently aboard the International Space Station.
So there you have it Folks. Stay tuned to the news to find out whether or not the sun will release a massive solar flare and if it does, bring your sunblock, bring your parasol or simply stay at home, ’cause all that extra solar radiation can’t be good for you. Also, take a look at THIS post and THIS OTHER ONE to know what to do in case that a massive solar flare sends humanity tumbling back to the stone age.
Visit news.nationalgeographic.com to read the entire article while I go outside and find out more about this by staring at the sun with binoculars. Don’t worry, I’m smart, I’ll wear sunglasses over the binoculars.
Giant Sunspot Now Aimed Directly at Earth
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