Sunspots are planet-sized islands in the solar photosphere, the bright surface of the Sun, and dark because they are slightly cooler than the surrounding surface. The field of view of the image spans nearly 100,000 miles, captured in a close-up telescopic snapshot from July 11. © Alan Friedman/ avertedimagination.
In the foreground of this stunning image, is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, built in the late 1800s and located on the highest hill in Paris, France. Next, are thin clouds forward scattering sunlight. Finally, far in the distance and slightly buried into the Sun’s surface, are sunspots, the most prominent of which is sunspot region AR 1512 visible near the disk center. Image credit: VegaStar Carpentier
Sunspots, which are cooler, darker areas of intense magnetic activity, are most often the source of solar storms. If we take the observations of the Sun’s lower atmosphere in extreme ultraviolet light (July 17-18, 2011), then digitally peer down through the atmosphere to video of the surface seen in filtered light, we can see the correlation of the sunspots to the brighter active regions above the surface.
The biggest solar blast in four years erupted late Monday, and it’s sending jets of charged particles right at Earth. The spray will spark bright auroras when it hits the magnetosphere in the next 24 to 48 hours.