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Solar Activity is Finally Picking Up Again

Published by Matt on Thu Dec 17, 2009 1:33 pm via: Universe Today
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The current solar cycle (24) has been pretty boring, but a new sunspot — 1035 — is growing rapidly and is seven times wider than Earth.

Sunspot 1035 starts to grow. Credit: NASA, SOHO

Sunspot 1035 starts to grow. Credit: NASA, SOHO

Solar astronomers are predicting it could grow to be the largest sunspot of the year. There’s not been a lot of competition for the biggest sunspot, though: for 259 days (or 74%) of 2009, the sun has been spotless. But maybe the (solar) tide is turning. There’s been other action recently besides the new sunspot.

A long-duration C4-class solar flare erupted this morning at 0120 UT from around the sunspot, which hurled a coronal mass ejection (CME) towards Earth. (See below for image of the CME that blasted off the sun on Dec. 14) Observers at high-latitude could see some aurora action when the CME arrives on or about Dec. 18th. Keep cheering; maybe the sun will come out of its doldrums.

CME on Dec. 14, 2009. Credit: NASA, SoHO

CME on Dec. 14, 2009. Credit: NASA, SoHO

Remember, don’t look at the Sun directly to try and see the sunspot. NASA has a great site that gives real-time data and updated images of the Sun from SoHO (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory.)

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