This image of the Sun was taken at the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory at 12:45 pm on November 3, 2013.
Littered with unstable sunspot groups, the early November Sun of 2013 had astronomers the world over on the edge of their seats.
The sunspot on the right of the Sun, AR1882, released an M-class flare on October 28th, just in time to cause some haunting auroras on Halloween. To the right of the center is the rowdy AR1884, whose instability teased solar scientists for almost a week before erupting with an M-class flare two days before this image was taken. On the left, peeking out from the far side of the Sun, we see the sunspot group AR1890. This Jupiter-sized monster of a sunspot group would go on to release a whopping 3 X-class flares as it made its way across the Sun.
Solar flares are caused by violent clashes of twisted magnetic field lines. If a sunspot group’s magnetic field is too complex or unstable, it harbors a risk for potential flares. Thankfully, our own geomagnetic field protects us on Earth, so all we experience is the stunning light shows we call auroras and the occasional communication technology failure.
Telescope: Lunt 100mm hydrogen-alpha
Camera: Lumenera SKYnyx 2-2M
Image Number: WEB13690-2014
Credit: Image by Smithsonian Staff, Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory
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