crikey. giant coffee bean on the sun :: Picture this: a coffee bean the size of Neptune. That's what hyperactive sunspot 798 looked like on Sept. 14th when Jerome Grenier of Paris, France, took its picture. The bright gash splitting this sunspot down the middle is called a "light bridge." The bridge, explains solar physicist David Hathaway, separates positive and negative magnetic polarities in the spot. It's a sign of explosiveness, because opposite polarities bumping together can spark solar flares. Sunspot 798 has unleashed nine X-class flares since Sept. 7th. ++ also at spaceweather.com: With so much activity on the sun lately, solar minimum is looking strangely like Solar Max. Get the full story from Science@NASA ++ Watch Out for the Harvest Moon.
Sun Activity Produces Impressive Auroras (Fri Sep 16, 8:36 PM ET) :: ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A huge sunspot has been blasting Earth with magnetic clouds for weeks, producing some of the most vibrant and visible summertime auroras in years, according to NASA scientists. Scientists said the magnetic flare-ups from Sunspot 798 may last through the weekend. "It is a fairly large geomagnetic storm that we've had over the past 24 hours, and it should continue a little while longer," said aurora researcher Dirk Lummerzheim, at the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.