A giant sunspot, 11 times the size of Earth, will be visible for the next few days, and a live stream will give viewers a detailed look at the phenomenon. Sunspots are caused by magnetic activity in the photosphere, the second layer of the sun’s atmosphere.
The live stream will be broadcast by SLOOH from a solar observatory in Arizona. The gigantic sunspot, AR1785, is already 11 times bigger than Earth and has not stopped growing. Sunspots are caused by magnetic activity in the sun’s photosphere and appear as dark spots due to their lower temperature, approximately 2,700 degrees Celsius, 4,892 degrees Fahrenheit, compared to the surrounding environment, which can reach 5,700 degrees Celsius, 10,292 degrees Fahrenheit.
AR1785 has an unstable magnetic field, which could lead to a powerful solar flare. With the giant sunspot facing Earth, the energy stored within the sunspot could lead to an M-class solar flare, capable of causing radio blackouts in the Polar Regions, or an X-class solar flare, which could lead to widespread radio blackouts, Spaceweather reports.
A solar flare can occur when the magnetic fields at the darker part of the sunspot, the umbra, and the lighter part, the penumbra, are facing away from one another. The unstable magnetic field of AR1785 could lead to a solar flare. On Monday, NOAA estimated there was a 55 percent chance of an M-class solar flare, but AR1785 has remained quiet, Spaceweather notes. An M-class solar flare erupted on Sunday and caused a temporary radio blackout, NASA reports. The radiation produced by these solar flares cannot pass through the Earth’s atmosphere and do not pose a threat to humans.
The SLOOH live stream will feature a panel of astronomers that will answer questions from viewers. The live stream starts at 11 a.m. PDT, 2 p.m. EDT and can be viewed below.
Charles Poladian joined IBTimes in October 2012 and, when not reporting on all things topical, can be found reading or photographing concerts.