March 1, 2014
Giant Sunspot Makes Third Trip Across The Sun
Karen C. Fox, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
A giant sunspot – a magnetically strong and complex region on the sun's surface – has just appeared over the sun's horizon. This is the third trip for this region across the face of the sun, which takes approximately 27 days to make a complete rotation.
During its three trips thus far, this region has produced two significant solar flares, labeled as the strongest kind of flare, an X-class. It has also produced numerous mid-level and smaller flares. While many sunspots do not last more than a couple of weeks, there have been sunspots known to be stable for many months at a time.
Studying what causes active regions to appear and disappear over time, as well as how long they remain stable, is key to understanding the origins of space weather that can impact Earth’s technological infrastructure.