I’ve been posting sporadically on how sunspots are starting to come back to the Sun, and I’m glad to see a new group sprouted up recently… and it’s a monster:
These images are from SOHO, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. The orange one is in visible light, and the sunspots are pretty obvious. The green one shows the Sun in the far ultraviolet, and you can see the sunspots are pretty intense, blasting out high-energy light. Sunspots are indicators of magnetic activity, and the intense magnetic field can accelerate plasma (ionized gas) to high energies.
Just so’s you know, a hundred Earths could fit across this image, so that oughta give you an idea of just how big these blemishes are.
What this means is that the Sun is becoming active again. You can see it better in this video I put together using SOHO animations. These are real SOHO observations. Note that some of the data are missing so the Sun’s rotation is a bit jerky, and that you can see that data dropouts and other problems plague these sort of observations. Oh– actually, another group popped up on the Sun earlier, too, and you can see those in the visible light data.