Earth-Directed Sunspot Now Size of 20 Earths

At 20 times the size of Earth, the largest sunspot observed since the fall solar storm onslaught is now pointed directly at Earth. Its unusually large size also means that it’s now visible with the naked eye (although you should never look at the Sun without a proper filter). The implications of this spot have scientists on the edge of their seats – if the active region generates coronal mass ejections (CMEs), massive explosions with a potential force of a billion megaton bombs, it will be a fairly direct hit to Earth and its satellites and power grids.

From NASA:
Earth-Directed Sunspot Now Size of 20 Earths

At 20 times the size of Earth, the largest sunspot observed since the fall solar storm onslaught is now pointed directly at Earth. Its unusually large size also means that it’s now visible with the naked eye (although you should never look at the Sun without a proper filter). The implications of this spot have scientists on the edge of their seats – if the active region generates coronal mass ejections (CMEs), massive explosions with a potential force of a billion megaton bombs, it will be a fairly direct hit to Earth and its satellites and power grids.

The last large solar events occurred in the fall of 2003 when about 17 major flares erupted on the Sun. In this case, the region (AR 10652) has generated several medium-sized flares and CMEs over the past three and a half days. These views are from the SOHO spacecraft’s MDI and EIT instruments, respectively. The EIT view shows the active regions churning out massive amounts of magnetically confined plasma in small blasts. Over the next few days, the region has the potential for unleashing more and larger solar storms.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is located in an orbit approximately one million miles from Earth in order to gain an unobstructed view of the Sun. It carries 12 instruments and is a joint NASA / European Space Agency (ESA) mission.

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