Phenomena

Eyes on the Sun

A sunspot larger than the Earth.

Though it may look like the Eye of Sauron, this image is actually one of our best-ever glimpses of a sunspot. Captured by the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope, this sunspot is larger than our entire planet, yet we can see details as small as 20km across. The dark central region of the image is the sunspot’s umbra, surrounded by the lighter, streakier penumbra. Along the edges of the image, you see a more typical pattern of bright convection cells. Compared to the rest of the sun’s surface, sunspots are cool — about 1,000 K cooler — due to their intense magnetic field flux inhibiting convection. (Image credit: NSO/AURA/NSF; via Bad Astronomer; submitted by Kam-Yung Soh)

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