Sunspots are part of the Sun's surface. Their temperature is several times less than that of the surrounding areas. Thus, when observed from the Earth, these cooler zones look darker against the encircling photosphere.
Current scientific hypotheses explain the process of reduction of normal convection by the formation of abnormal magnetic field streams, 2500 times more powerful than Earth's.
A few days ago, astronomers registered the largest sunspot in 24 years.
The sunspot bears the name AR 12192. It reaches a maximum size of 2750 micro hemispheres. The largest registered sunspot was on November 18, 1990. It was 3080 micro hemispheres in size.
AR 12192 first appeared in mid-October. In a mere few days it reached unusually gigantic dimensions. This is a clear sign of the presence of active regions on the Sun that are under the influence of strong magnetic fields.
Scientists explain that these sunspots are the main cause of solar flares that affect Earth. SO far, AR 12192 has induced 10 solar flares, which, miraculously, have not led to serious damage on Earth. There were disturbances registered in radio communications, which luckily were not accompanied by coronal mass ejections.
Sunspots and their magnitudes have been observed since 1874.
AR 12192 is the 33rd largest sunspot out of 32 000 active regions on the Sun. Scientists are quite worried since such a gigantic sunspot may lead to magnetic storms on our own planet.
This would disrupt the functionality of telecommunication satellites. Additionally, they have a negative influence on the human psyche. However, for the time being, AR 12192 is showing that such a large active region is not always related to a significant coronal mass ejection.