News

Is this the largest sunspot ever?

SOHO MDI

ASTRONOMERS are claiming that Earth is witnessing the biggest and most powerful sunspot ever seen and the sunspot is yet to peak in intensity.

A sunspot is a magnetic storm on the surface of the sun and the area of the spot is colder than the normal surface.

The normal surface is about 5000 degrees, the temperature of a sunspot is about 3000 degrees.

The size of a sunspot varies, ranging from the size of the moon to 65 times larger than the size of earth and lasts for about a month then fades away.

This newest sunspot is thought to be 60 to 80 times the size of Earth and has occurred on the side of the sun, which is in view of Australia.

Wappa Falls Observatory head astronomer Owen Bennedick describes the sunspot shape like the letter S and thinks it to be approximately 150,000 km long and 30,000 km wide.

“It's flares have not yet been measured,” Owen Bennedick said, “but it is like hundreds of thousands of hydrogen bombs.”

The flares have been so bright that NASA has had trouble taking accurate pictures of the sunspot.

Mr Bennedick said the sunspot is still growing in intensity but predicts it could climax by today.

The sunspot will cause the Earth's atmosphere to heat up, potentially creating problems to powerlines, radio transmitters and delicate equipment such as mobile phones and computers.

Mr Bennedick suggests powerline filters be installed on computers and people should put on extra sunscreen.

Sunspots appear on the sun in cycles, occurring every 11 years, the current cycle has four years until it reaches it peak.

The last sunspot happened two years ago and was the most powerful flare yet measuring x28.

Most sunspot flares measure around x12 which is still considered powerful.

The Sunspot two years ago was 45 times larger than the earth and lasted for 45 days.

Since that sunspot, no more had been seen until Sunday, this latest one considered the most powerful yet.

The Wappa Falls Observatory is in the process of installing a new 12 inch telescope which will allow a greater view of the sky.

The new telescope was bought in honour of Kerry Mounter who recently passed away.

Mr Mounter was an inspiration to all who worked at the Wappa Falls Observatory. The telescope will be dedicated to his memory.

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